This time last year we were planning our 20th year anniversary season and how we were going to celebrate that with the paddling community. It was an exciting time reflecting on how far eNRG Kayaking has come over the last 20 years and thinking about what the next 20 years would bring. We could have never foreseen what the 2020 season would look like.
The beginning of March we were on route from 3000 miles across the country bringing a 35-foot-long by 5-foot-wide voyager canoe to Oregon City as part of our 20t h anniversary celebration for school groups, Full Moon Paddles, and music on the water events during the upcoming season. During the canoe’s trip across the country, along with multiple kayaks we had picked up on our way to add to our flatwater and white-water fleets, COVID-19 was sending this country into a rapid lock down situation.
With our new additions to our fleet arriving and the country shutting down we were not sure what to expect, at times it was a waiting game to when and if our season was going to even start. While waiting to find out when we would be able to start the season, we diligently prepared to make sure we were ready to follow the newly established social distancing and sanitizing requirements and making sure that the guest experience was still the best we could offer.
Changing the shop layout, adding sanitizing stations and limiting the number of people in the shop at a time posed a challenge, especially with more people taking up paddling sports for the first time as people started to look for social distancing activities. As we continued to evolve how we operate our business we also had to evolve to offer programming to meet the quickly growing interest.
With a soft launch of our program Music on the Water in the 2019 season we were excited to be able to offer this programming in 2020 with the use of our new Voyager Canoe. Watching a musician being paddled around while kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding alongside, truly offers a unique concert experience, where the sounds of music and nature join in harmony.
We continued to offer our discounted Ladies Night on Tuesdays and Family Night on Wednesdays. It was amazing to see how many new paddlers would join us for these nights, excited to try something new for the first time and enjoying themselves more than they thought they would.
Our youth camps brought along a unique set of challenges. Paddling sports lend to social distancing easily, but it is not the easiest thing to have children social distance. We limited the size of our camp groups and adapted the structure of the camps to adhere to social distancing protocols. With the introduction of more activities promoting social distancing and with the hard
work of all our camp staff we were ready for hosting multiple camp groups simultaneously, with up to 100 campers a day.
As the summer came to an end 2020 had another challenge for us. The wildfire we saw on HWY 22 along the Santiam River found eNRG Kayaking in another tumultuous situation, as our Whitewater location is in Mill City. With the unexpected loss and damage seen along HWY 22 we had to rely on our family of paddlers to come together and overcome.
It was not the 2020 season we had expected or had even planned for, but even amidst the chaos and loss we overcame the challenges put it front of us. Throughout the season the biggest lesson we have learned is that the unexpected happens- plan for it and be ready, but most importantly…
Paddle more, worry less.