“There is no shower down there? Are you serious?” exclaimed Alize Beal, a 15-year-old Boys and Girls Harbor Upward Bound student. “How are we supposed to stay clean?”

“You are going to spend so much time playing in the river, you won’t want to take a shower,” answered Steve Albrechtson, Sundance River Center guide and kayak instructor. Alize shot Steve a shocked stare.

This combination of disbelief and amazement characterizes most of what this group of 13 intrepid teenagers and two chaperones from New York City were feeling on their first journey down the Rogue River, in southern Oregon. After they spent three days based out of the river lodge at Sundance, it was time to prepare for the downriver journey through the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue, where the group would camp out for four days and three nights. This meant no electricity, no running water, and sleeping in a tent each night. For these kids, they might as well have been traveling to Mars.

The trip to the Rogue was a big step for the New York City-based Inner City Kids Kayaking, which has been teaching teens to kayak for two years. After seeing such a positive response and so much enthusiasm about kayaking, leaders thought why not give the kids more of a wilderness experience? On this trip the kids and chaperones would have a chance to kayak and to raft, and the group would be fully self-contained, supported by gear-carrying rafts. The Rogue River, with its warm water, gentle progression of whitewater, and stunning beauty, was the perfect choice.

Since the camp’s inception, paddling superstars like Eric Jackson, Anna Levesque, and Andrew Holcomb have donated their time. This year, Jackson Kayak generously outfitted the campers with new Jackson kayaks. AT paddles, Astral Buoyancy PFDs, Shred Ready helmets, Mountain Surf spray skirts, and Dermatone sunblock enthusiastically donated gear and product. The only hurdle to making the dream trip to the Rogue come true was finding someone else who saw the value in the experience and would be willing to fund the project. Luckily, a very generous man came into the picture and made it all possible.

More about Jessie Stone at her Soft Power website.