What is Get Kids Paddling? How did it start?
Get Kids Paddling began with a discussion of its founders (John Burton, Dave Goldman and Phil Matsushita) about the current state of affairs in canoe tripping for schools at an Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association (ORCKA) conference in 2013.
From their discussion a number of issues began emerging. Paperwork demands by school boards were increasingly onerous. OPHEA requirements were unrelated to good tripping practices. The costs and time required for qualifying leaders was a burden. And much more….
From that chat, annual meetings of interested teachers and outdoor leaders began in 2013. Surveys of Ontario schools followed. OPHEA was approached by GKP, ORCKA and Paddle Canada, and progress was made. Annual GKP Rendezvous were held in 2017 and 2018 and attracted participants from schools, guides, scouts, summer camps, cadets and community groups, and a number of well-received speakers. Participation became national as GKP expanded its grassroots appeal.
The tragic 2017 drowning of Jeremiah Perry in Algonquin Park while on a school trip, had major impact on many school programs in 2018 and 2019, and as a result, there was very little interest from GKP members in a 2019 Rendezvous. And now we are living in the 2020 pandemic.
GKP has formed a steering committee to study the best ways forward. It is our feeling that together, we have time now to plan for 2021 and thereafter.