CW’s 60th Annual Training Camp Didn’t Disappoint

08/05/2016 2:03 PM | Anonymous

By Elizabeth Austen
Photos by Terry Standlee

My friend Mark keeps telling I should give up running CW’s annual Training Camp. He thinks it’s too much work and I’ll get burned out on volunteering. He has a point, that has happened before. But that was back then. And now, I’m on a mission. Training Camp is like a drug for me. It gives me a feeling I can’t get any other way. And I can’t walk away, I have to make the next one even better!  With that in mind, there will be a survey coming soon, and it would be GREAT to have feedback from people who attended this year.

I am so grateful for all the people who come together and contribute—in countless ways—to make this event a success. It is, by far, our largest annual event, it’s our biggest fundraiser, and it takes a village to make it happen. Fortunately, we have an incredible village of kind, smart, fun, giving folks who help in so many ways, and this boat surely wouldn’t float without them. Most importantly and probably most obviously are the CW instruction team members who lead classes. CW instructors are certified to teach for the club via the American Canoe Association’s training guidelines, and the training is paid for with club funds. Instructors are then beholden to give forty hours annually to teaching for CW for five years, at which point they can opt to recertify. These people are particularly selfless. They teach at the CW-sponsored pool sessions throughout the winter at Meyers Pool in Arvada, conduct flat-water and moving-water weekends for the newest kayakers just prior to Training Camp, and then top it off with Training Camp itself, never mind that most of them also lead cruises and mentor people outside of the CW structure. If you’re a solid class III+ boater with a mentoring mentality and an interest in joining our instruction team, contact CW Instruction Director Dick Alweis at for a private conversation. 

CW is also fortunate to have about a zillion terrific mentors who are not trained as instructors, but are strong boaters with good rescue skills and a desire to help with the on-water activities. And then there are so many folks who help at the event with the logistics of things like checking people in, selling raffle tickets and conducting the raffle itself, taking video for classes, setting up tents and tables and technology and moving things, bringing tablets for video, lanterns and lights and tents and whiteboards. Behind the scenes was CW Webmaster Scott Winkleman, putting together the big puzzle of information and class registrations in a way that made sense. Treasurer Jermiah Krayna handled refunds and vendor payments efficiently and Membership Director April Hillman assisted in making sure all registrants were current members and therefore insured—which is actually a very important component. Additionally, a key piece that most people don’t even know about is the safety plan and event insurance facilitated by our Insurance Director Leslie Tyson. That’s a big headache and a vital piece. I’m so very relieved and thankful that Leslie is willing to take on those pain-in-the-arse tasks!

We had 200 people in attendance at our 2016 event, up from about 170 the previous year. The camp sites were full and people had to make friends with their camp neighbors. Which is a big part of the event anyway, and if you’re not interested in connecting with other people, this is not the event for you! If you met fun people at Training Camp and don’t know how to contact them now, you can find them via the CW member directory o line. Log in at and go to the Resources tab, then click on member directory.

On Friday night, after we overcame some technical difficulties, Peter, Kathy, and Abby Holcombe did their presentation, “Famago-go: The First Year.” In 2014 they sold their home in Boulder, Colorado, and moved into a twenty-four-foot RV to explore the United States and earn their living through their tremendous photographic skills. They shared their fantastic journey via a fun, fast-paced, interactive presentation with a zillion photos and video clips. If you want to know more about them and follow them virtually, you can visit their website at Peter was also kind enough to take some photos for us at our event again this year. Thanks, Holcombes! 

On Saturday morning, we got things moving with a quick safety talk by CW Safety Director, the ever amusing Pete Bellande, and a good stretch led by CW Instructor David Clair, who also owns Fitness for Living and knows a thing or two about injury prevention (  A volunteer from Colorado Parks and Wildlife was present to sell state park passes and encourage us to participate in the river cleanup that Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) hosts the same weekend every year. They have a terrific safety brochure with maps of the area available here:

Instructors came forward to claim their groups, and everyone began to prepare for the on-water fun.  We had a wide range of classes and abilities from brand-new kayakers who just completed pool classes and their first time on moving water to Level-up Bootcamp, complete with video playback.  We had high attendance in the Level B Intermediate Fundamentals classes (had to add more!) and not as many people in the level C and D groups. Of course, the Intro to Playboating class with Emily Jackson and Nick Troutman of Team Jackson / Jackson Kayak was a big hit. We also had terrific guest instructors Holly McClintock from Four Corners Rafting in Durango and Kyle Johan from RMOC in BV. We appreciate the assistance and sponsorship from these companies and their bright and shiny instructors! One of the things we are always striving to improve is the selection of classes. We’d love to have your feedback and suggestions for next year, via the survey (coming soon).

On Saturday evening, we had good food provided once again by Jodi Johring of Classic Country Catering (  I am so happy to have found a good caterer who doesn’t mind coming out to the middle of nowhere to cook for 200 people in a tiny space at a campground with unreliable electric and facilities that do not even vaguely resemble a commercial kitchen! Some of the folks who have been attending TC for many years can sure tell some stories regarding past food fiascos including bad food, burned food, being berated by the caterer to not take more than your share because she didn’t make enough, and actually running out of food! One year I actually didn’t get any dinner. Jodi and her crew have proven to be a terrific improvement.

Post dinner we had live “jazzy folk and blues” tunes from Nathan Rivera and Jessie Andra Smith (  They live in California but have friends in Salida and arranged their schedule to accommodate us. Their style was unusual and refreshing, and their attitude was equally delightful, Nathan provided more music at breakfast on Sunday morning and set a sweet tone for the day. 

On Sunday morning, we had our awards and the big deal—the PRIZES!  We had so many terrific prizes provided by friends and sponsors, it was quite a spectacle and our Events Director Laurie Maciag ran her tukus off handling the presentation, culminating with the grand prize of the Jackson Kayak Fun.

I was thrilled that I actually got on the water Sunday! I tagged along with Leslie Tyson’s Level A group and test-drove my new Jackson Zen. (Loving it!) After some big fun on the water, I headed back to clean up, pack up, and wait for all groups to report that they were safely off the water. As I packed, up some pals came to hang out ,and we ended up having an impromptu dance party in from of HQ at cabin 10. What a fun way to wind up my favorite event in the whole world. No, Mark, I won’t “give up” Training Camp. It’s my happy place. And we’re gonna do it again next year. I hope you’ll all be there!


  • 08/07/2016 9:21 AM | Deleted user
    We'll most definitely be there, Elizabeth and so appreciate all the hard work and planning you and all the volunteers put in to make one of the most fun and amazing outdoor events we are fortunate enough to know about and participate in. Thank you!
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