Waypoint Summer of Strength

Each summer, Waypoint partners with the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation to offer accessible kayaking adventures in local state parks through the Universal Access Program. It’s been a busy, inspiring, funny, emotional, energetic summer filled with meeting hundreds of unique and amazing people and building new relationships. Over 200 people came kayaking in some of MA’s most beautiful lakes, sections of the Charles River, and Boston Harbor.

And what did people discover? Strength! It was our theme and unifying thread throughout these 16 programs… When we learn new things (like how to kayak or contribute to a team), we grow in resilience, confidence, and self esteem. We become stronger! Lots of people discovered strengths within themselves and/or their community this summer and we captured these discoveries by adding them as “weights” to our dumbbell! Check out some of our favorites from the #WaypointSummerofStrength:

  • I discovered calming myself down in the kayak after feeling anxious

  • I can do it by myself!

  • I learned I can go without pontoons!!

  • I learned how to get people wet with a sponge

  • I learned how to stroke backwards

  • I had an easier time swapping kayaks mid-water than I expected

  • I learned that there are BALD EAGLES on the Charles River

  • This reminds my how much I enjoy the outdoors. I lived in Waltham, but never kayaked before!

  • I learned how to get back into a flipped kayak

  • I learned it’s always good to try something new!

    Photo Aug 22, 9 39 17 AM

    Co-Director Dan Minnich lifts our enormous dumbbell filled with hundreds of paper “weights” that participants wrote their learned strengths on.

    These programs were made up of strong, supportive communities of people that were excited to challenge themselves, push their limits and experience the natural environment together. The MetroWest Daily News picked up the story too! We’re feeling extra grateful for the awesome community we get to experience here in Boston, so we’ve got some people to thank…

Thank you to our groups! You obviously set adventure/experiential-education at a high priority for your clients/students/ participants/residents and understand the value of the outdoors. You make a great partner! Thank you for coming kayaking with us! We hope the lessons you learned and the strengths you discovered are having a reverberating affect back in your program/classroom/home! Thanks Assabet Valley Collaborative, Newton North & South Community Connections, Charles River Center, Sharon High School’s Pathways, Boston University, Burlington Recreation Department, Community Rehab Watertown, Bay Cove Human Services, and Massachusetts Association for the Blind Skills for Life.

Thank you to our sites! Charles River Canoe and Kayak, we can’t thank you enough for your staff’s support and letting us use a few of your rental sites this year! And Wayland Recreation Department, thank you for letting us use Wayland Town Beach, keeping your bathrooms open, and letting us use your beautiful boat launch!

Thank you to our volunteers! You’ve all been flexible, helpful, and your passion for people, adventuring, and contributing to life-learning was contagious. We learned from you this summer and are so thankful that you’re a part of this team! Eurasia Foundation, thanks for visiting from Russia! We’ll look forward to seeing the documentary you put together! Wilmington Trust, thank you for paddling with us and contributing to the community-feel that day!

And thank you DCR Universal Access Program! Your parks rangers and coordinators were prompt and accommodating, your UAP summer staff were helpful on programs, and your value of adventures that are accessible for all is what makes Massachusetts a better place! Thank you!

7/13 with Assabet Valley Collaborative at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Four pictures of middle-high school aged students paddling in tandem boats)

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7/13 Open Enrollment at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: (Left) One student and volunteer coming back to the dock in a tandem boat. (Right) The group of 10 participants and volunteers circled up in the parking lot debriefing the day under a tarp to protect from the drizzle) 

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7/15 Open Enrollment on Boston Harbor out of Malibu Beach, Dorchester (Below: Five pictures of our group of adults that made it all the way out to Thompson Island in Boston Harbor. Some pictures have the Boston skyline in the background)

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7/20 Open Enrollment at Herter Park in Allston (Below: Four pictures of our mixed group (half kids under 12, half adults) paddling up river some in singles some in tandems. Bottom right photo is of a 9 year old girl paddling in the front of a tandem with a paddle-pivot, gripping device, and is all smiles with her paddle partner, Kelsey paddling the back. There’s a beautiful sunset behind her.)

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7/25 with Newton South High School at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: Four pictures of this group of high school students paddling on an overcast, cool day. One group shot has all 17 group members and the other three are staff or volunteers teaching paddle strokes)

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7/25 with the Charles River Center at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: One picture of a volunteer, Brenda, and older gentleman participant getting life jackets on on-land and all smiles. It’s our only picture because someone dropped their phone in the lake! Whoops!)

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7/27 with Newton North High School at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Six pictures of high-school aged youth and a team of volunteers from Wilmington Trust paddling in tandem boats. One picture of our group of 23 people in the parking lot, another of our handshake game at the program’s opening, and several smiles, winks, and peace-signs in the boats)

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8/3 with Sharon High School’s Pathways at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Six pictures of high-school aged youth and a team of volunteers & staff paddling in tandem boats on a hot and sunny day. One picture of a student paddling his own single, and picture on bottom left is of a tandem boat that decided to flip over purposefully near the launch and participants are swimming back to shore)

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8/3 Open Enrollment at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Six pictures of our group enjoying Waltham’s section of river on a beautiful sunny day with a few clouds in the sky. Bottom right picture is of our team of 3 female volunteers that day after re-loading the trailer with heavy boats showing off their muscles)

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8/10 with Boston University at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Four pictures of group of adults paddling tandem boats on a sunny day. Top left is a full group shot of all 11 group members; Top right is a tandem pair pulling water bottles out of a bin from their boat; and Bottom right is Dan and 2 volunteers eating their lunch on the grass with mouths open showing off their yummy meals)

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8/10 Open Enrollment at Woerd Ave in Waltham (Below: Four pictures of our group paddling in the evening with a setting sun. Some are in tandems, some in singles. Bottom left picture is of one participant filling out his “strength” on a paper weight while Volunteer Bill holds the dumbbell waiting for him to put it on)

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8/15 with Burlington Recreation Department at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: Two pictures of our overcast, but warm day. Top picture is our group standing in a circle near the water’s edge listing to Adam talk about our goal for the day. Bottom picture is a paddle partner duo on the water in an orange tandem boat)

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8/15 Open Enrollment at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: Four pictures of our group of adults paddling tandem boats on an overcast but warm day. Bottom left is Adam fixing the hand adaptation for one woman’s right hand; Bottom right is one staff and older gentleman standing back on shore smiling after a successful paddle)

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8/17 with MAB’s program, Skills for Life at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: Four pictures of our group getting ready to paddle and then paddling on a beautiful sunny day. Top picture is the group of 6 standing in a circle on land holding paddles and practicing the right movements. Two middle pictures are of our fleet of kayaks going under I-90 in a small tunnel. Bottom picture is our group back up on land after a great day)

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8/17 Open Enrollment at Lake Cochituate in Wayland (Below: Nine pictures of our evening program with adults. Top three photos were taken from MetroWest Daily News’ article of us fitting folks into boats, talking through paddle strokes, discussing where to sit. One picture in the middle is of our group going through the tunnel with glow sticks hanging around their necks. Our evening ended with some beautiful blue shadows and pink skies from the setting sun)

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