Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Sundance Kayak School
“Two days just isn’t long enough!” was the overwhelming consensus. So…
Chief Instigator, Melissa DeMarie, contacted an old paddling friend from her boating days on the California North Coast, J.R. Weir, who now owned Sundance Kayak School on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. The result was an outstanding collaboration: a 4-day Women’s Holistic Paddling Clinic on the Rogue, and June 2020 marks the 5th anniversary of this marquee event!
Above: Sundance’s J.R. Weir and Cali Collective’s Melissa DeMarie on North Fork Cottonwood Creek, CA. Photos courtesy of Dan Menten, The New School Guide to Northern California Whitewater
River Love at First Sight
J.R. Weir took his first Rogue River trip at age 11 with his dad, when they came as students to Sundance Kayak School. He was instantly captivated by the environment and lifestyle. J.R. and his dad returned to the Rogue for many family kayaking adventures, and when he turned 16 he sought employment at Sundance, where he spent the next 20+ years working as a professional kayak instructor and river guide.
J.R. Weir grew up in Crescent City, California, kayaking on the Smith River and spending time in the outdoors exploring his local environment. He is known for saying, “You don’t need to go to another country to find adventure, there are so many great things to experience in our own backyard!” J.R. has spent many seasons since then sharing his passion for the river with others. In 2013, he bought Sundance Kayak School with his fellow kayak instructor Lori Turbes. Having been with the company through thick and thin over many years, J.R. feels blessed with the opportunity to give back to a legacy that shaped his life for the better. J.R. has tremendous enthusiasm for life with an infectious appreciation for the natural world and an unbounded passion for whitewater kayaking and instruction. J.R. is certified by the American Canoe Association as an Instructor Trainer, and is recognized as one of the top instructors in North America.
Sundance & the Iconic Rogue
Sundance Kayak School was started on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon way back in 1973! It was created for one very specific reason: to teach whitewater kayaking. For 46 years, Sundance Kayak School has been a center of learning and personal growth on the Rogue River in Oregon.
All their introductory programs are designed for the person who has never been in a whitewater kayak, and over the years, their name has become synonymous with quality kayak instruction. Sundance Kayak School has opened the door to this dynamic sport to people of all ages and from all walks of life, and is dedicated to sharing the love of rivers and paddle sports through Education, Involvement and Enjoyment.
All of Sundance’s kayak instructors are friendly professionals, chosen both for their expert kayaking ability and, even more importantly, for their talents in teaching. Their ability to instill trust and confidence, to allay fears and frustrations, and to recognize and respect limits are combined with personalized teaching and a low student to instructor ratio for a proven, successful approach to kayak instruction.
Composed of outdoor educators, passionate adventurers, professional leaders, and world class kayak instructors, Sundance Instructors are a diverse group of fun and knowledgeable individuals, each with their own style of teaching and unique sense of humor.
Kayaking is a great way to improve one’s physical health and build stamina, while practicing mental composure. The process of learning how to whitewater kayak can be extremely invigorating for the mind and body. It keeps you in the moment, and encourages you to trust your body, and go with the flow. The thrill and reward of accepting the challenge of learning how to kayak in whitewater, mixed with experiencing the fun, majestic beauty and timelessness of a wilderness river trip are the reasons people come to Sundance Kayak School.
Above: Surf spots are a plenty on the Rogue! Students and instructors alike can sharpen their skills and have fun while doing it. Photo credit: Liz Miheve
5th Anniversary | Sundance and Cali Collective
If 4 days of kayak instruction, restorative yoga, camping on the river, massage therapy, delicious meals and even a costume party sounds like a good time to you, be sure to check out our Womxn’s Holistic Paddling Clinic on the Rogue June 18-21, 2020. And just a heads up, this clinic sells out early every year, so don’t miss out on this very special collaboration!
If you’re interested in learning about this amazing clinic from a student’s perspective, check out the article by Nancy Soares on her website:
Many thanks to J.R. Weir and the Sundance crew for sharing their special talents and good vibes!
All words and images copyright California Watersport Collective 2020. All rights reserved.