Camp Cup Challenge 2013 – a big (water) success

Alzar School | 16.07.13

The Southeast has been getting more than its fair share of rain this summer, forcing camps there to explore little used sections of river. With that in mind, and the forecast calling for 60% chance of rain before we left Idaho, the Alzar School team was anticipating a challenge at this year’s Camp Cup on the Nantahala River.

Monday was a beautiful, sunny day, and about half the camps got training in. A handful of campers participated in our second annual freestyle competition, modeled after World Kayak’s “Hometown Throwdowns.” Tosh, the Head of Instruction at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, was our guest judge for that event. He repeatedly said how impressed he was with the quality of the kids’ paddling. The Nantahala will be hosting the international World Championships in September, and these campers had the chance to show off on the same wave that all the pro boaters will be competing on.

After Monday’s training day, about 40 of the campers were able to attend a delicious ice cream social hosted
by Endless River Adventures. Flavor favorite? Something called “Superman Flavor” (it was blue, red, and yellow). Juliette Jacobsen-Kastorff welcomed all of the kids and kept us up to speed with the river flows, which was essential because…

That night, the dam operators decided to bump the release up to 1150 cfs (normal = 700). Needless to say, this called for a change to our slalom course, as some of the former eddies changed to holes and waves! Thankfully, slalom racer extraordinaire (and former Olympian) Pablo McCandless was there to tinker with it. He crafted a course that was tricky, but accessible to new boaters, with an optional set of gates at the bottom to challenge experienced boaters. In the end, today’s slalom runs went really well, and the campers once again demonstrated that their hard work paid off.


For the downriver event, campers launched at the Cement Beach and navigated through the Falls, which were extra fun with the additional water being released. We had our normal share of swamped canoes, flips, rolls and swims, but the awesome counselors that set safety helped everyone finish their runs.

Our liaison at the NOC, Zuzana Vahna, was on hand today to provide all of the kids with a pizza lunch, courtesy of the NOC. She also found a reporter from the Asheville Citizen Times wandering around and encouraged her to cover our event… So watch their paper for headlines!

The day finished with our traditional free raffle for the kids and volunteers. This year’s sponsors included Alzar School, World Kayak, Endless River Adventures, WRSI, Snapdragon, and
Performance Video. The energy of the kids, who were thrilled to win a prize, was awesome.

Our favorite part? Getting to connect with so many awesome people at this event. Including, this year, 11 alumni and 6 future students and 1 future Teaching Fellow. This event has meant a lot to many kids, and to the Alzar School.