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Devon Barker-Hicks' Dare to Kayak

Teach a kid to paddle - change their perspective forever!

Devon Barker just returned from taking 30 students to Zim’s Hot springs to learn to paddle. Devon teaches Jr. High School and her co-instructor, Brent LaFay, teaches fourth grade. The fourth, seventh, and eighth grade students participated in "Dare to Kayak". Devon created "Dare to Kayak" in 2002 as a way to deliver a positive message to schools. She wanted to encourage kids to begin paddling as a healthy activity to steer them away from drug and alcohol abuse. She shares an interactive video with the students on paddling and then they visit a local pool to learn to paddle.

Gary Wilson, World Kayak Ambassador, and his kids, Tyler, Troy, and Paige, all helped instruct at Zim’s. 2013 was the 5th year they've been helping to make Dare to Kayak a great success! In 2013 they created the "Dare" video below.

Dare to Kayak had about 15 kayaks in the water all at the same time; each student had a partner. They cover wet exits, sweep, draw, forward, and reverse strokes. They play fun games in and on top of the kayaks. Devon's all-time favorite game is when they turn the kayaks upside down and run across as many as you can before bailing off into the water. All of the fun games help the students to become more and more comfortable in the water.

It is amazing how much the students can learn in one day. By the end of the day they can flip over and hold their breath before wet exiting. They were all coming up with smiles on their faces. Each student demonstrates their skills for all the strokes they learned. As an educator, Devon says "it is so wonderful for me to see those students who do not always excel in academics, shine when paddling. If only, I could take them paddling everyday, I might get them to turn in their homework!"

The final day focuses on river safety, conservation, fish habitat, and proper use of PFDs. This year the group visited the Alzar School campus for water safety day.

Alzar is an amazing school for 10th and 11th grade students who are interested in leadership and of course, kayaking. Their students created six stations for the Dare to Kayak students to participate in. Students learned how to float in the water, nose and toes, and how to watch out and be safe when approaching river hazards. The dry land foot entrapment and strainer station was very effective. Students also learn how to use a throw bag, properly fit PFDs and how to pull each other back into a raft. The Alzar students created fun transition for the students to engage in between stations. The canoe challenge was a big hit. The day wrapped up with lessons on habitat, a tour of the campus, and a picnic lunch. All of the Alzar students did an amazing job leading their stations. Three of the leaders were students that Devon taught to paddle in the past - "I am so proud of you!"

Dare to Kayak has been made possible through funding from the Idaho Wild Rivers License Plate Fund from the Idaho Department of Commerce in conjunction with Devon's awesome school, Meadows Valley School District in New Meadows, Idaho. She "cannot thank everyone enough who has supported me and values water safety education and paddling. I cannot thank Zim's hot springs enough for their support and use of their pool. Thanks NRS for all the kid paddling gear, Werner Paddles for the paddles, and all our friends who graciously loaned their kayaks to our students!"

Here is a quote from the week. They students come up with new ones daily.

"Dare to be who you want to be";
"Activities are better than drug and alcohol abuse";
"Risk losing so you can reach your goals";
"Everything can be achieved with hard work, dedication, and a deep, down drive that guides you"....

Hope to paddle with you soon.

Devon Barker-Hicks