Another year of the Park Jam has come to an end, the kids I met the first time have gotten older, taller and better at kayaking but best of all there are new people popping up throughout the countries whitewater parks.
The first years tour was a bit of an impromptu rush to make it happen, nobody knew what to expect – especially myself but it was received well and in the second year we ironed out some creases and the local kayakers knew what to expect. Now in it’s third year and with more help in the planning and running of the tour, I really feel like it is growing into what we had first hoped it to be. A way to connect with the local kayaking community at each park and to inspire the next generation of mini senders.
Unfortunately Nottingham’s stop was cancelled due to flooding but below are some of my takeaways from each location.
Great vibe, atmosphere and crew of young kayakers, I especially enjoy the friendship between Kitt, Morgan and that crew. There is also a good mix of talented freestyler and aspiring River Runner and the local shop Above and Below really gets behind the community here.
Every time I come here the kids I have met before have improved so much and there are new kids all the time. Two junior girls Brogan and Senna are turning into such amazing all round kayakers, Ben Higson is on fire and the Croseoy kids are coming on in leaps and bounds. There was also a kid there this year called Jools who may be the most naturally talented freestyle kayaker I have ever seen. My favourite part of the day was watching Senna try and front flip the Ripper.
Mile End Mill - River Dee
My home stomping grounds, were I learned all of the early skills. It was never a very busy location for kids freestyling when I was growing up and I would often be surfing with people much older than myself or on my own. There is currently a really good crew of three or four young kayakers there and a kid named Ellis who I have high hopes for as he gets older and I really enjoy that there is a new kid, in a Pyranha kayak throwing down and progressing at the Mill and developing a similar style to myself on the water. Smooth but really powerful.
Unfortunately it seems like Teeside and the community that surrounds it rarely gets the attention that it deserves. However if you were to venture over to this park you would find a brilliant set of rapids, an exceedingly friendly local crowd and some very talented youngsters. The short course at full flow also produces an astoundingly pushy and powerful rapid for a whitewater park is really something special. I had an amazing time kayaking with the local community and especially enjoyed taking a kid called Jacob down the short course in a duo.
The smallest park by far but the one with the biggest stoke. I love the local community that Bruce Joliffe has been building here, a group of passionate kayakers that are not perturbed by cold weather and tricky surf features and who simply crack on and have fun. My highlight here was surfing the hole the pumps make and encouraging everyone to give it a try. That thing is mean but there were a few game people that committed to going in and getting trashed.
However my biggest highlight was to see the countries Whitewater parks surrounded by great communities of people and so many talented youngsters, the future of kayaking in the UK is very bright indeed.
Big thanks to everyone that makes the Park Jam happen,
Catch you on the water next year!
Throughout the tour Bren was keeping himself warm with his new SEND baseball and full send Longsleeve tees.