Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kitsap Peninsula rocks the paddlin' world

Some people just keep moving, keep getting better, and keep spreading the gospel. One of those I'm lucky to know is John Kuntz, owner of Olympic Outdoor Center in Poulsbo, WA, at the heart of the lovely Kitsap Peninsula. John is also a member of the Olympic Kayak Club, and a strong supporter of organizations that promote conservation of open spaces and access to and from the water, like the Washington Water Trails and North Kitsap Trails. So here's what John has on his plate for 2009, all to promote paddlesports, get more people in boats and build public support for our sport:

The Puget Sound Challenge, a 1-year, 150-mile, do-it-yourself-whenever-you-want-or-with-a-planned-group paddling adventure. From Belfair, WA, at the southern tip of Hood Canal, to Allyn, WA, it's just a few miles across the tiny isthmus that creates the Kitsap Peninsula. But it's 150 miles by water and the trip covers some of the most gorgeous paddling scenery you can imagine. I've talked to people who want to do it in a weekend, and others who want to stretch it out and devote nearly every weekend from now til Fall. Whatever the reason and however it's paddled, it's all for fun and awareness of paddling, and the extra bucks go to WWTA. A great cause and it should be a chance for lots of new paddling friendships.

Paddle Kitsap, a full-service 2-day, 3-evening affair on July 31 and August 1 to support the North Kitsap Trails Association. The cost is not cheap, but the organizers are going all out with shuttles, meals, and live entertainment all included. With all the development planned for this former rural backwater piece of Puget Sound, the Trails group is playing a vital role in making paddling available for everyone.

Paddle Washington is John's other ongoing project, and he's ambitiously working to unite the many members of our paddlesports business community to publicize events like clinics, races, symposia, and paddlers' gatherings of every type. After talking extensively about this with John, and reading daily about our state's cuts to parks services, it's obvious to me that all this energy will be well-spent if we can build some synergy among our industry to get more people paddling safely, no matter how much/how little they want to spend or what type of craft they want to paddle.

Great work, John. Wish I had your energy!

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