Whitewater

Building Confidence and Community

by melissa-demarie
Monday, December 02, 2019
   Whitewater
Monday, December 02, 2019
I have found over the years paddling, especially in whitewater kayaking, the number of women was always extraordinarily small compared to the number of men out on the water. So my original thought was just to get as many women as I could in kayaks.
Melissa DeMarie
by Melissa Demarie

Melissa DeMarie is a professional river guide and the “Chief Instigator” of California Women’s Watersport Collective.

California Women’s Watersport Collective, aka “Cali Collective,” began in 2015 with the idea of getting more women connected and out on the water. It started with a small group of friends and grew organically. We did some meet-ups, got women out on the water having a good time and then started running regular clinics. Event after event, we found that the process was working! Not only were we getting more women on the water, and they were gaining skills and confidence, but they were making connections and they were making friends and building a community.

Melissa working with a student on the Rogue River - photo Liz Meheve
Melissa working with a student on the Rogue River - photo Liz Meheve

What began as concept has evolved into a full-fledged kayak school, with trips and clinics both specific to women and open to all in California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Chile. For those who can’t remember learning to kayak, it can be frustrating, challenging and sometimes scary, so we wanted to smooth that process and create a safe space to learn. We strive to shape a nourishing environment where people feel validated and encouraged to face their fears.

Learning new skills on the water, accomplishing things “they didn’t think they could do,” helps to build a confidence that can be carried anywhere.

Melissa DeMarie - South Silver - photo Robby Hogg
Melissa DeMarie “chief instigator” of Cali Collective running South Silver - photo Robby Hogg

Community is the heart of Cali Collective. The whitewater community is special around the world and this is something that we want to share. Many of us have formed friendships through Cali Collective that have continued outside of the organization. With that in mind, we are aiming to “get outside our bubble” and extend our reach beyond paddlesports. This year saw the birth of our Community Outreach Project, with activities such as yoga in the park, art for meditation and a Community Celebration on the South Fork American River. We are looking in the coming year to include more youths and under-represented demographics of our region. We want everyone to feel welcome, and to have the opportunity to benefit from this loving group, as we have.

Melissa - South Fork American - photo Andres Silva
Melissa - South Fork American - photo Andres Silva

To learn more about Cali Collective and to get involved with our growing community, visit our website, Facebook and Instagram.


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