Max came kayaking with Waypoint for the first time in summer of 2018 with Newton Public Schools. During his first kayaking program, he felt nervous and stressed and did not want to go out on the water. Along with Max’s teacher, our staff encouraged him to try sitting in the boat on land to start. Over the next hour, Max slowly built up to being able to sit in the boat on land for one minute at a time, starting with 10 seconds, then increasing intervals. He never entered the water or held a paddle.
Each summer, Waypoint selects a goal to focus on across all kayaking programs. In 2018, it was the summer of courage. We celebrated Max’s courage to try kayaking, even though he never got out on the water.
Four years later, Newton Public Schools came kayaking again. Waypoint staff met with Max’s teacher ahead of the program and identified our goal for Max’s next kayaking experience: to have him sit in a boat, on the water, for a few minutes at a time.
On the day of the program, we met the group at Walden Pond and discussed our goal for summer of 2022: growth. When it was time to get into boats, Max blew everyone away. He calmly got into the boat, listened to a demonstration on how to paddle, and headed out on the water with the rest of the group, paddling with his boat partner as they enjoyed the sunshine and crystal clear water of the pond. We later received an email from Max’s family that read, “Max had such a great time and keeps talking about how he wants to go back to the ‘little boat’! YOU MADE OUR SUMMER!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!”
At Waypoint, we believe challenge leads to growth. We also believe in challenge by choice, meaning each individual gets to decide how they would like to challenge themselves. Max started with small steps, and through slow exposure, experienced huge success on his own terms. What started with courage, ended with growth. Max is already signed up for more kayaking this summer, and we can’t wait to see all the ways he continues to grow!