WCKA Newsletter - December 2005
has been a month of tremendous excitement and adventure for WCKA. We
experienced multiple helicopter river-runs and epic ocean-surfing.
After our last day in Murchison we drove to Hokitika to set up our
final base camp. Luckily, the area experienced a good deal of rain,
which opened up many river-running opportunities to us. Our first run
was the Kakapotahi. The run consisted of some fun boofs and a sliding
waterfall. The second run, the Styx River, required a two-hour trudge
up a beautiful jungle river valley. When we reached the put-in, some
students were pumped, others frightened. A few kids put in on the upper
section, others hiked down to the lower put-in. The Styx was the
hardest river-run the group participated in all year. The river was
steep, rolling over giant boulder gardens.
the majority of our time in Hokitika, students prepared for finals and
took the exams. After exams began, we did not paddle for two days in
order to focus on our studies. After two rainless days the Arahura
River dropped to a desirable flow. We postponed our final day of exams
in order for some students to run this epic river. We met the
helicopter at nine o’clock in the middle of a cow pasture. When the
helicopter left after its final trip, we knew the only way out was down
the river. The Arahura is ingrained as a favorite in my mind: the
bright blue, crystal-clear water flowed over perfect boofs, through
slots, and over waterfalls. We completed our last day of finals and
everyone was relived and ecstatic to experience our final days in New
following day we all flew into the Whataroa. This river was
glacier-fed, and accordingly was high-volume and full of opaque blue
water and exciting rapids. We enjoyed lunch in the giant moss-lined,
smooth granite gorge. After lunch the run continued with fun wave
trains and surf spots. The following day some students flew into the
Perth. The most advanced students put in at Scone Hut, and they insist
it was one of their favorite runs in the world. Other students put in
below the “gnar” and ran some fun rapids.
We spent our final
days in Hokitika writing our final exams, handing in our final papers,
ocean-surfing, and doing some Christmas shopping. We then drove to
Christchurch and the following day flew home.
What a wonderful experience New Zealand has been!
—Jake Sakson, Carbondale, CO
WCKA Newsletter - November 2005
began the month of November at the Kaituna. In our final week and a
half at this choice destination, we organized and participated in many
competitions, including a downriver race with teams, a triathlon, and a
rodeo. The downriver race teams included one veteran, who attended WCKA
last year, and two newbies. The racers were spaced by one minute and
began on the bank at the put-in, then paddled the 1.1-kilometer run as
fast as possible. The competition was a close one — Chiseki and Zack
came in fifth; Jesse, Adriene, and Phil got fourth; Keith Miller,
Billy, and Ryan styled into third; the boys from McCall: Glen, Alex and
Ian raced into second; last but far from least, Reid, Evan, and Jake
paddled their way into first!
The triathlon was even more
exciting and physically grueling. It began with roughly a 100-yard swim
in which Keith Miller, the accomplished swimmer he is, beat the
majority by around a minute. Adrienne, however, also an outstanding
swimmer, came in a close second. At this point all the students put on
a minimum of paddling gear regardless of the bitter cold water. Keith
had a minute lead on everyone, but Billy, Adrienne, Ian, and Jake put
on head-to-head. Billy and Ian, being the beasts they are, pulled ahead
leading Jake and Adrienne. They were head-to-head for a few minutes but
Billy prevailed. Adrienne and Jake finished a few boat lengths apart.
At this point the students shouldered their boats 100 feet to where the
vans were parked. Many students felt dizzy from the cold water and
The students had laid out their shoes and
socks at the vans. Keith was long gone. Billy geared up second, leaving
a minute before Jake and a minute and half before Adrienne. Jake passed
Billy a quarter or so through the race during the relentless hill
climb. Seconds after Jake passed, Billy lost his lunch of grilled
cheese and tomato soup on the trail. However, he trekked on. The final
results were: Billy in third, Jake in second, and Keith Miller in
weekend after our “extreme” events we enjoyed two other river runs. The
first was the Mangorewa where its access was across a farmer’s land.
For a price the farmer shuttled us all down to the edge of his
property. Most rode on the truck with the boats and more adventurous
others tore down to the put-in on dirt bikes. We grabbed around the
driver's waist, hardly on the seat, and held on for dear life while we
hit jumps on hills and sped down grassy slopes. One was forced into
putting his or her life into the driver's hands — fully trusting him.
We went in two groups and hiked down the steep trail for thirty minutes
into the gorge. When we finally broke out of the jungle we were in a
pristine box canyon roughly 10 feet wide. The river had little water
and was filled entirely with spring water that was coming directly out
of the walls. We were able to flip over and drink it at any time. The
run continued, boxed in, over pristine waterfalls and flowing rapids.
The day was long but we immensely enjoyed our scenic adventure. That
has been the most beautiful run of the entire trip.
following day we paddled the Wairoa, a school favorite. There was a
little more water this time compared to our last excursion, making the
run a touch more exciting. The rapids on this river are excellent,
dropping down boulder gardens and over boofs. Everyone had really good
lines on the main drops, Toaster and Rollercoaster. Some people tried
more challenging lines on these two drops.
Tuesday after the
triathlon we competed in a rodeo organized by Tom and other faculty.
There were three classes: Girls — all female competitors, Adrienne,
Whitney, and Jenn; Veterans — all students and teachers who attended a
kayaking school last year, Natty, Billy, and Ian; Newbies — the largest
class, for all newcomers to a kayaking school. In the Girls class Jenn
received third place, Whitney took second, and Adrienne danced her way
into first. The Veterans had a very close competition: Natty made it
into third, Billy took second, and Ian styled it into first. The
Newbies were even closer with a three-way tie for second. In the end
Alex took fourth, Jesse third, Polk second, and Reid, throwing huge air
loops, flew into first.
The next day we woke up early to pack
all our gear and prepare to leave what had been our home for three
weeks. We grabbed an early morning run on what had been our “home”
river. We met at the takeout and headed down south to Raglan. We set up
camp at another Holiday Park right on the beach. Within a 100-yard
radius we could be on the beach or a perfect rugby/ultimate Frisbee
field or in the kitchen. In the mornings we would grab a small
breakfast and head to the epic beach break to catch the prime waves.
The first day was excellent and many people began to learn new moves.
Some people learned to Pan Am, others to air blunt or roundhouse. The
second day was outstanding in the minds of many of the students. We
witnessed the impressive surf on the beach below, and everyone became
ecstatic at the sight. The waves were the biggest most of us had ever
seen. Jesse and Jake began hitting Pan Ams consistently; Alex, Glenn,
and Reid hit blunts nearly ever ride, and the veterans were throwing
every trick in the book. As a consequence to the massive surf we were
forced to punch towering holes after every ride to return to the
optimum position to catch waves. Watching from the shore one would see
Glenn and Alex popping massive blunts and Jesse throwing his now
patented Pan Am. These three insist that it was the most epic day of
the trip. On our third day in this warm, balmy environment we packed up
for the long drive to the Rangetiki River.
was running low due to a bizarre snow season. Nonetheless, the river
was fun, tight, and technical. There were many boofs and thin slots.
During our three-day stay we enjoyed a tour of the Bliss Stick kayak
factory. Many students were intrigued by the process, as well as the
quality of the boats and the amount of care put into each boat. Glenn,
Chiseki, and Zach were due for new boats and took this opportunity to
purchase them at an extremely discounted price. Everyone we met at the
factory was a kayaker himself and took care with every boat and mold,
and made them like they were their very own. We left the Rangetiki
after four nights and traveled to Wellington, a city on the
southernmost coast of the North Island. We camped at small site in the
city and visited the Museum of New Zealand History. As usual we made
the most out of our trip and all the students learned a lot.
following morning we drove onto the ferry to the South Island. The
students were thrilled and ecstatic for the days that were inevitably
about to come. They had heard rumors of the splendor of the South
Island. The ferry was luxurious with an overpriced cafeteria, many
decks, sitting rooms, and open observation deck. We did a half day of
school onboard. Upon arriving we jumped in the vans, drove off the
ferry, and began the lengthy drive to the Rangitata. We reached the
Rangitata lodge late at night. The students, delighted to have beds,
jumped in the triple-decker bunks and “hit the floor.” The next morning
we slept in to recover from the night before. We did half of our
classes, then headed out to the river.
The run begins in a
flat valley with green mountains on either side and luminous
snow-capped peaks in the distance. As the river tightens its gradient
increases and the big-water rapids begin. There were only two rapids
but each was long and consisted of big-water waves, holes, pillows, and
boils. The next day's schedule was a replica of the day before, and the
following day we arrived in Queenstown.
From our new base camp
we paddled the Shotover twice, a very unique big-water run that
contains a long tunnel followed by a steep rapid. We also paddled three
different sections on the Kawarau, the Dog’s Leg, Roaring Meg, and
Citroen. The Dog’s Leg section had a great surf wave and one big-water
rapid. Roaring Meg was a tighter canyon full of huge waves swirls and
boils. Citroen contained one exciting, steep, big-water rapid. While in
Queenstown we also had Thanksgiving dinner, hung out with the all
girls' Traveling School, did some intense morning workouts, and went
seemed like we left for Maruia before we arrived. Talk was in the air
of a park and huck 30-foot waterfall. The drive from Queenstown to
Murchison was a long one. However, it was broken up by lunch and a stop
at the astounding Fox Glacier. Our journey ended at a Holiday Park in
Murchison. During our first day at our new destination we cleaned up a
riverside dump as a community service project. This was grueling and
dirty work, but the progress we made was remarkable. The following day
we found ourselves at Maruia, a 30-foot waterfall. For the majority of
the students this was the biggest drop they had ever run. Everyone ran
the drop time and time again, perfecting their plugging skills and
having a great time at it. We returned the following day to experience
more freefall. After dinner one night we enjoyed a slide show by the
legendary Mick Hopkinson, a pioneer in the whitewater kayaking world.
The slide show was informative as well as mind-blowing. Well, that
leads us up to this day; we are in the car headed to our final
destination of Hokitika.
Semester exams loom in the distance
and the students are preparing themselves studiously. This last month
has been one of considerable improvement and excitement in the kayaking
world as well as one of much schooling and learning in the “real”
world. Our adventure is coming to an end here in New Zealand, and we
are finishing with a bang.
Jake Sakson, Carbondale, CO
WCKA Newsletter - December 2002
hope this holiday season finds you in the comfort of family and
friends. The WCKA team is home for winter break after finishing fall
semester in New Zealand. The first two weeks of this month were busy
with semester projects and final exams. WCKA administers finals much
like a college curriculum. Students prepare for cumulative tests with
intentions of swaying semester grades in their favor. The final
projects presented by the Fine Arts students were attended by nearly
everyone with videos shown, artwork displayed, and music played. The
physics students had their own show as they tested their individually
designed and constructed bridges made out of bamboo skewers. The
objective was to build the strongest bridge for its relative weight.
Both World Class and Scotch College students witnessed the show as
bricks and buckets of water were suspended by the small bridges. Scotch
College, a college preparatory school from Australia, was on a year-end
trip to New Zealand (www.scotchcollege.sa.edu.au). The three days spent
with Scotch College at the holiday park in Murchison proved a terrific
cultural exchange as students from both countries learned how life is
for teenagers in another part of the world.
month of December began in Queenstown where WCKA paddled various
sections of the Shotover and Kawarau rivers, with the highlight being
an epic play run on the upper Shotover. Following our stay in
Queenstown was a trip back up along the South Island’s west coast to
familiar Hokitika. This journey included a run on the Kokapotahi River
and glacier viewing. From Hokitika the group made its way northward to
the Karamea river drainage where it took a two day helicopter trip.
While everyone was looking forward to the scenery of a national park,
whitewater, and the chance of seeing five foot wild eels, the trip
became a test in mental endurance. The Karamea is legendary for its
sand flies and according to Marty, our seasoned Kiwi guide, we
experienced a “10 out of 10” on the sand fly scale during our breakfast
at camp. The team took out later that day, stronger and wiser to the
realities of thousands of blood sucking insects, to head to Murchison
and the Buller River where finals and the final leg of the trip lay. In
Murchison those who were able to manage the studying, daily workouts,
and rain paddled the Matakitaki River and took several trips to Maruia
Falls to practice their waterfall running techniques. The stay in
Murchison ended with consecutive days of torrential downpour, bringing
a powerful play hole and wave to the Buller River. Everyone is enjoying
their well earned rest time over the holidays and gearing up for
another semester of adventure in learning.
are excited to announce that the recipient of this year’s $5,000 Nike
ACG scholarship is Matt Stiefel (seen here working on his physics
project at the ferry terminal), known at WCKA as “Ivan.” Ivan’s passion
for paddling, academic talents, and good nature have been justly
rewarded. World Class would like to thank Nike for giving this
scholarship opportunity as well as the students for putting so much
time and effort into their applications. It is our hope that this
enthusiasm will help the WCKA scholarship program grow, enabling more
students to take advantage of the incredible educational opportunity
the school provides.
WCKA is looking ahead to spring semester
which will begin with a flight to Ecuador. The program will remain in
Ecuador until the end of March when it returns for the West Coast tour.
Thanks to everyone for making a terrific fall semester possible as we
look forward to the future.
WCKA Newsletter - November 2002
Thanksgiving! The WCKA team is now on the South Island after spending a
month on the Kaituna River in the Rotorua region of the North Island.
The North Island offered educational opportunities in every area. In
Environmental Science, students visited clearcuts in the forests of
Rotorua and studied their effects on the hydrological cycle. To study
aerodynamics and drag coefficients in physics, Greg held a contest
where the students had to build a non-motorized craft or object. The
craft that stayed in flight the longest won. Howell’s English class is
memorizing lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost while his Government
students are writing letters to their state senators. In Whitney’s
World History class, students are studying New Zealand’s history
through Maori culture and the arrival of Captain Cook -- her Spanish
students are working on Spanish skits.
While on the North Island,
WCKA viewed thermal pools and learned how the Maori used them for
cooking and everyday life. At the Maori Village, a Haka was performed,
a traditional dance ritual used to scare off enemies before battle.
setting sail to the South Island, the group spent the afternoon
visiting Te Papa (“Our People”), the New Zealand National Museum in
Wellington. The museum included modern New Zealand art, greenstone and
wood carvings, wildlife exhibits, South Pacific history, and the
effects of western colonization including farming and sheep shearing.
Kaituna River in Rotorua provided WCKA with excellent river running and
a perfect playhole. At the end of their stay, a rodeo and a downriver
race was held to determine the A and B teams. The downriver race was a
six-minute race with a boater-cross for the top four finishers. During
the rodeo, paddlers were scoring up to 400 points in a single ride.
WCKA took full advantage of its weekends by traveling to Raglan for
some ocean surfing, paddling the Wairoa River, and surfing at Full
James, the site of the 1999 World Freestyle Kayak Competition. During
the journey to the South Island, WCKA paddled the Rangatikei River, a
spectacular Class IV run through gorges and green pastures.
past week, the town of Hokitika on the South Island has been the
perfect home base for a variety of paddling adventures. The team was
more than willing to hike with their boats in order to enjoy beautiful
sections of whitewater on the Arahura and Styx Rivers. In addition to
river running, the Arahura, known for its deposits of greenstone,
supplied WCKA with an excellent playhole.
In addition to being
on the river, the team has been training New Zealand style. Sevens, a
form of touch rugby, has proved an effective way to cross-train and
have a good time. Other mornings have been spent stretching and
birthdays have been celebrated since the team’s arrival in New Zealand.
A big “Happy Birthday” goes out to Whitney, Scott, Ivan, and Petey.
Nike gave WCKA another reason to celebrate with a generous $5,000 “Nike
ACG” scholarship for spring semester. Students may apply for this
scholarship as well as two other WCKA scholarships -- applications are
due December 3rd. We cannot thank Nike enough for helping us achieve
our long-term goal of becoming entirely scholarship-based.
last few weeks in New Zealand were kicked off with the Red Hot Chili
Peppers concert in Christchurch and a night of dancing. From there,
WCKA traveled to the Rangitata River, eventually making it to
Queenstown to celebrate Thanksgiving. Other adventures in the south
will include a trip to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, more rivers, and a
helicopter trip on the Karamea River. The students will spend the last
week and a half in Murchison in order to take finals before heading
home for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!