Santiago Chile- New Youth Kayak Program

Interested in Pucón Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here. 

Chilean students kayaking
Nido de Aguilas adventure program director Spencer Fowler helps a student put on a neoprene skirt. Skirts are designed to keep water out of the kayaks. This student can roll his kayak without a paddle and in his cast.

Pucón Kayak Hostel owner David Hughes, an education major and founder of Go Huge Kayaking’s successful youth programs, upon basing in Chile naturally saw a need for introducing Chile’s youth to kayaking. A rational route would be to follow familiar US school models. Hughes realized many successful youth kayak programs are those schools with resources for learning and supportive instructors willing to teach fundamentals. That school and professional instructors were found via Santiago’s Nido de Aguilas aka “Eagles Nest” junior high and high school. An introduction to Eagles Nest came via two Eagles’ students, Daniel and Lucas Miller, who for the past two years attended Pucon Chile’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp.

Eagles Nest Instructors Promoting Kayaking

During the Chilean winter months several students got good enough to execute "hand rolls." A hand roll is a challenging kayak roll without using your paddle.

As important as a supportive school with proper facilities would be the school’s instructors and whether they are willing to promote whitewater kayaking. Spencer Fowler and Sergio Juarez are Eagles Nest outdoor adventure and pool directors whom were excited for the opportunity to promote kayaking to their students. The problem is that few if any schools in Chile actually have kayak equipment. Pucón Kayak Hostel realized that if PKH transported proper kayak gear to Eagles Nest that students would get excited about kayaking.

PKH Loans Jackson Kayaks for Youth Learning

Knowing students would need the best kayaks for learning Pucón Kayak Hostel lent Eagles Nest High School six sets of gear: paddles, skirts and kayaks for the winter pool sessions (April to October). Jackson Kayaks provided the perfect learning crafts for reasons of size and ease of rolling. Kayaks loaned were the Lil Heros and Villain S’s for both size and easy to roll logic.

Kayak Skirt- a neoprene skirt is worn by each kayaker tightly around the waste. The “kayak skirt” is attached to a “cockpit rim” that keeps water out of the kayak and allows the kayaker to get in and out of the kayak unattached. 

Eskimo Roll Setup. Before you can roll a kayak you have to learn the setup. This Eagles Nest student reaches to place his paddle on top of the water to "roll" his kayak.

Planting the Seed for Kayaking

With six sets of gear in place Fowler began giving students during pool classes options for kayak rolling lessons. Progressions included wet exits to hand rolling. Students were excited to play in the kayaks learning wet exits, basic strokes, rolling, and then games with hand rolling.

Youth Learn Fast

Hughes returned to Eagles Nest last week to give a presentation to over 30 enthusiastic students ages 12 to 17. The presentation focused on “Why do people love kayaking?” Hughes related the adrenalin and group mission accomplishments of paint ballers as well as the psychological achievements of video gamers to what kayaking progressions and river missions provide for kayakers. Students interested by the sport asked questions. As well, students discovered why many consider Chile the world’s best destination for kayaking. A video of some of Chile’s spectacular runs was shared. 

When it comes to youth kayaks the brand Jackson Kayak has committed to building the best youth and children's kayaks. Jackson Kayaks makes proper fitting kayaks that are easy for kids to roll and manage.

The most surprising thing was when the youth group went to the pool excitedly they hopped into their boats and began rolling. Many students had remarkable rolls. The most advanced students demonstrated hand rolls. A couple of students would swim into their water filled kayaks, put on their skirts whilst upside down, and hand roll in one breath. Hughes smiled from ear to ear and Fowler exuded pride of his students’ rolling successes. It was obvious the energy invested in delivering and loaning gear was worth the effort.

Hughes had actually planned to pickup the six sets of gear for his upcoming PKH season. But seeing how much the youth were excited for and practicing kayaking there was no way he could take the loaned gear. Instead, he resolved to somehow figuring a way to later transport the gear back during Eagles’ Christmas break.

Santiago's Eagles Nest high school provides a warm pool where students can practice rolling kayaks loaned by Pucon Kayak Hostel. PKH is committed to the youth benefits of safe kayaking.

Youth Kayak Camp Based after the World’s Most Successful Kayak Camp Models

If you are going to research the world’s most successful kayak camps Ottawa Kayak School’s Keeners and go Huge Kayaking’s camps would have to top the list. Both of those programs have a list of world champions and Olympians that consistently promote youth development via passion for the river running. Pucón Kayak Hostel Youth Beginner Kayak Camps borrows from the structure of the Keeners “choose your sessions” plan and Hughes’ own go Huge Kayaking models. By allowing families to choose from several different week long sessions students can join a camp for one week, two weeks or three weeks. As camp director Hughes states, “The kids learn so fast that they need time in their kayaks rolling, running rivers, practicing strokes combined with a proven instructional program. The more experience students allow themselves at camp the better they get. This model has been proven by the best kayak camps in the world.”

Daniel and Lucas Miller surf a wave in front of Pucón's Volcan Villarrica.

Interested in Pucon Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here.