Monday, 25 January 2021

Teens experience rafting adventures on Cache Creek

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Sandra Madrigal, executive director of the Woodland Health Care Foundation, and her daughter, raft along with other teens during one of Tuleyome's Teen Rafting Events. Photo Courtesy of Patrick Rogers.




WOODLAND – The antics started as soon as the rafts hit the water. Paddling frantically, many of the kids spun helplessly in circles or drifted sideways down-river. After a few tries, however, they had worked it out and were happily gliding towards the first set of rapids. For many of the teens this was their first time rafting, or indeed their first real experience with the wilder aspects of Mother Nature.


Since 2005, the Woodland-based environmental group Tuleyome has been organizing rafting trips on Cache Creek for underserved Yolo County teens. This year Tuleyome expanded the program partnering with the Collings West Sacramento Teen Center, Esparto After School RISE program, the Woodland YMCA and Woodland Youth Services to take over 160 teens rafting down Cache Creek.


“The rafting trips are fun. But they also give the teens practical lessons in leadership and team work. And, as importantly it gives them an opportunity to get away from the urban landscape and learn about the natural environment,” said Debra Chase, Tuleyome’s executive director. “When you look at these kids and see the joy on their faces you see our future conservationists, farmers and leaders. That’s why we do this, for their future,” she said.


After a safety and training talk the kids donned their life jackets, grabbed their paddles, launched their rafts and began the voyage.


A number quickly became stuck on rocks and boulders. The tips they learned during the training session paid off however, and everyone freed themselves and continued downriver.


By lunchtime everyone was all smiles and it was clear they were thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Trystan, a participant from the Esparto RISE program had the highest praise. “That was cool!” he said.


These trips would not be possible with out the support of community businesses and individuals. The Rumsey Community Fund, Woodland Healthcare Foundation, First Northern Bank, Stephen and Robin Souza, and Pat Conrad provided important funding. Two local rafting companies, Cache Canyon Rafting and White Water Adventures, discounted trip costs. And Woodland Raley’s supermarket and White Water Adventures provided lunches. Tuleyome volunteers boated with the kids contributing their time and expertise.


“Without the generous support of the Rumsey Community Fund and our local businesses and individuals, it simply wouldn’t be possible to run the teen rafting program,” Chase said. “We really appreciate their support.”

 

 

Of course, for the kids on the river, none of that mattered as they faced the biggest rapid of the day innocently named “Mother.” It is the only class three rapid located just downstream of the Highway 16 bridge.


Bob Schneider described it to the kids. “Go under the middle span of the bridge then stay on the far right side. There is a hard right, then left turn at the bottom before the large haystack waves. It is challenging, but your volunteer guides will be at the bottom to help if you need it.”


Meeting those outdoor challenges can make a big difference for kids. Dustin Pearson, one of the participants from the Woodland Youth Services, called it “one of the greatest adventures of my life.” He added, “This has made me want to try all sorts of new things.”


Tuleyome is already planning for next year providing opportunities for the underserved youth of Yolo County. They always are in need of experienced kayakers to volunteer as guides and mentors for theprogram, which generally runs from June through the middle of August. If you would like to help contact them at 530-350-2599 or log on to their Web site at www.tuleyome.org.


Tuleyome is a not-for-profit organization working in the Putah and Cache Creek watersheds to protect both our wild heritage and our agricultural heritage for future generations. More information can be found at www.tuleyome.org.


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