Adaptive kayaking at Portland State

Inclusive Rec and Outdoor Program team up

Portland State Inclusive Rec and the Outdoor Program are gearing up for their next collaboration—adaptive sea kayaking. The program will be held on May 6 with a mandatory pre-trip meeting May 2. The trip is focused on accommodating people of differing disabilities, but anyone can join. The program is open to any level of paddler and in the past has had people ranging from novice to expert involved. The location will be finalized based on the level of expertise of the participants.

Unleashed: Jen Armbruster, Inclusive Rec and community service coordinator, poses in a kayak with her guide dog Vail.Karl Kuchs / Vanguard Staff
Unleashed: Jen Armbruster, Inclusive Rec and community service coordinator, poses in a kayak with her guide dog Vail.

“We try to accommodate any type of disability, the inclusive aspect of it is it isn’t just limited to people with disabilities,” Interim Outdoor Program Coordinator Steve Boyd said. “The inclusive part means that all are welcome.”

Last year, the adaptive sea kayaking trip headed to Hagg Lake, and Boyd said it was a huge success.

“I did this trip last year, and the feedback I got back from participants was just really overwhelmingly positive,” Boyd said. “People who would think, ‘There is no way I can do this,’ they came back after a day of sea kayaking and they said, ‘This was awesome, this was amazing, this is something I didn’t think I could do.’”

Inclusive Rec Coordinator Jen Armbruster said the goal of the Inclusive Rec and Outdoor Program collaboration is to get everyone into the outdoors, regardless of abilities. They recently changed their name from Adaptive Rec to Inclusive Rec, which she said better displays their mission.

Armbruster said Inclusive Rec offers just one skiing trip throughout the year that is only open to individuals with disabilities, but the rest are always open to people of any ability—deeming the name Inclusive Rec more appropriate.

“We wanted to focus on getting all campus rec members involved in all of our programs across the board, so we run inclusive ODP trips,” Armbruster said. “We make an effort to make all of our Outdoor Program trips as accessible as possible, but we always have one specific trip per term that is geared to making sure there are no barriers to participation.”

Armbruster said that in the case of the sea kayaking trip, the accommodations are generally dealing with ensuring the put-in and take-out locations are easily accessible.

Regardless of a person’s ability or experience in a kayak, Boyd said sea kayaking is a great way for beginners to learn about the sport.

“White-water kayaking is designed to turn quickly, and in order to avoid obstacles on a river, sea kayaking is designed to go in a straight line—one of the advantage of sea kayaks,” Boyd said. “For sea kayaking, that design is great because basically anybody can get in a sea kayak and they can point it in the direction of where they want it to go and they go.”

Boyd said kayaking is a unique activity and allows individuals a way to get into smaller alcoves due to their small size and easy maneuvering, which is what makes it so enjoyable.

Interested individuals can sign up for this trip at the Outdoor Program office. The cost is $35 for Rec Center members—any full-time student qualifies for this rate—and $70 for non-members. The pre-trip meeting will be held on May 2 at 5 p.m., which is also the last day to register.


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