Wednesday
Jun272012

::Cottage Life::

Early last fall, after Randy Starkman & Randy Risling from the Toronto Star came for a visit up in Algonquin Park and produced that cool video, Toronto-based Cottage Life magazine asked if I was interested in having a little artice writen about my place up there.  I said I would certainly like that very much, but only if they would permit me to write that article myself.  Almost 10-months later, it's on shelves! Here's the cover, and a very small teaser... pick up a copy of the magazine to read my feature, and because it's a fantastic publication.  Thank you to Michelle and Penny and everyone Cottage Life, you are a pleasure to work with, and I hope it's not the last time I have the privilege.

 

{a tiny excerpt} 

..."Up until that corner, my kayaking career had been rewarding on many levels, not the least of which was bringing me to that corner in Algonquin Park.  I often consider how the choices we make and the paths we take mould us into the people that we are.  My choice to turn right that rainy morning, a seemingly random decision, turned out to be another game changer for me.  When I was out paddling on South Tea Lake I saw a “For Sale” sign on a dock.  I was intrigued so I got out of my boat on that dock and had a look around.  The property was home to a very old log cabin, and nobody had been by in quite a long time.  There were five or six big fallen trees blocking the path, and since I was in bare feet I didn’t explore for too long.  I committed the real estate phone number to memory, and finished my paddle in the rain."...

 

Monday
Jun042012

Comin' Home...

It's been a long month.  4 countries in 4 weeks, lots of travel and hotels and hotel food and shuttle buses.  It's easy to say that I'm anxious to come home and just concentrate on training for a few weeks.

Moscow was a good challenge. The wind put up a good fight, but I pushed through that bastard and it felt good.  My lungs are actually still a little raw.

In a few hours Mark and I will be back on Canadian soil.  He won the 5000m yesterday, so we got to hear O Canada for the second time in an many days... made us both a little homesick.

Euro tour 2012 is a wrap.  See you soon...

Thursday
May242012

::european tour 12::

It's time to write something!

I've been in Europe for a little more than 2 weeks now. My first was spent in Portugal at the Nelo training facility at the beautiful Montebelo Aguieira.  It's a great dammed lake very much like the waterways of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.  Lots of great paddling and trail running there, I recommend it to anyone as a training site. Well, to canoers and kayakers in training but I doubt if downhill ski racers or ice climbers or astronauts, deepsea divers, big-game hunters or those engaged in high wizardry training would enjoy the facility as much as we did. But it's good for paddlers. 

My second week was in Poznan, racing the 1st of 3 World Cup competitions, on little Lake Malta.  I only raced the 1000m K1 event, and as you can see in the picture above, I placed third in my finale. Congrats to Rene (kind of looks like Shrek in this picture, growl) (DEN) and Eirik (why are you wearing a scarf?) (NOR) and all the guys on a good race. Cheers to Balint for the always high quality photographic excellence. Thank you Poznan for the very pretty flowers.  Owing to my Dutchness, I love me some tulips.

After the race we all made our way to Duisburg, Germany.  Duisburg is a pleasantly familiar place for me to be in May, as I've raced here many times over the decade-plus I've been paddling my boat for Canada. The city Zentrum has improved so much over the past 10 years, it has really developed into a wonderfully vibrant and culturally thriving town.  It's a multicultural working class city close to Dusseldorf, with one of the nicest and most functional pedestrian-only promenades of any European city I've visited. The public art, restored architecture and bountiful fountains are of a truly capital city pedigree. I spend my afternoons with a book and an espresso at a street-side cafe, or on the grass of their new raised green space right beside the Mercatorhalle, Duisburg's new mixed-use cultural hotspot.  Mark Oldershaw and I attended the symphony last night, and enjoyed some Tchaikovsky and Schostakowitsch from the Duisburger Philharmonisches. Vladimir Spivakov conducted for a diverse full house, and enjoyed some 7 rounds of applause, treating us to a lively and familiar encore which everyone recognized, but whose name was lost on us jocks. Mark said we shoulda "Shazaamed it".  Whatever the heck that's supposed to mean.

Racing commences tomorrow at the Regattabahn in Sportpark Wedau, easily my favourite of all the international canoe-kayak venues I've raced.  I am again only concentrating on the 1000m K1, and I'll leave the 500m to my longtime clubmate and up-and-comer, Brady Reardon.

Following the Duisburg World Cup, on Monday Mark O, Bernard "the internationale leader of teams" Irvin and I are off to Moscow for World Cup 3 and hopefully a little sightseeing, as I have never been to Russia before.

Good luck to everyone racing front-ways here in Duisburg, good luck to the Canadian Rowers racing back-ways in Lucerne... Go Canada Go!

Stoked as always... talk to you soon.

Monday
May072012

:Give Your Everything:

Wednesday
Apr182012

This is the unedited, un-cut version of this article, which appeared this morning in the Globe and Mail.

Katimavik

By: Adam van Koeverden

April 10th 2012

My parents attended Guelph University over the same four year period in the 1970s. They drank beer in the same campus bars, attended Guelph Gryphons football games; they might have even taken an elective together, who knows.  But they didn’t meet there. They made the same decision upon graduating from Guelph, to go work as group leaders with this new youth initiative called Katimavik.  In its very first year, 1977, my parents attended a Katimavik orientation in Lac St. Joseph, Quebec.  They met briefly, and my mom went off to Baie-Comeau, Quebec and then to Yellowknife, and my dad went to work in the small town of Arundel, Quebec, close to Mt. Tremblant.  Over the next year my parents worked independently, a whole country apart, while driven by a shared commitment: to contribute to the youth of Canada.

They worked for Katimavik on and off for 5 years, in that time they also got married and had me, their first of two sons.  I’m told that makes me a “Katimababy”.  By 1982, the year of my birth, my dad was working for Katimavik full time in Toronto, as the financial manager for Katimavik’s Ontario operations.

My mom used to wear an old white Katimavik sweat shirt while she gardened.  I remember asking her when I was very young, what the orange circle with the green line under it meant. She told me that Katimavik means “meeting place” in Inuktitut, and that she worked there, with kids, way up north after University.  So my mom and dad met at “meeting place”.  The serendipity was lost on me at the time; I was six and probably covered in mud and poison ivy at the time.  I owe Katimavik my life in the sense that it brought my parents together, but they didn’t only find each other in Lac St. Joseph, they started on a journey to find themselves, too.

I read last week that as government funded youth initiatives go, Katimavik is too costly and that it’s not worth saving.  That actually it was a really easy decision to scrap it.  I spent a few hours on the phone with my parents, as they recounted their experiences there.  My mom remembered the short Yellowknife days, and how she felt safer with a 12 year old Inuit boy in the woods while playing a survival game, than she could ever imagine feeling with any adult from the city in the same situation. She feels that she learned as much from those kids as she taught them.  She studied horticulture at Guelph, and talks about the differences in the plant culture in the far north as if she spent her entire childhood living in the Northwest Territories.  My mom has spent the last 20 years or so working as a community co-ordinator in the non-profit housing industry. My dad remembered being thrown headfirst into a leadership role in Arundel, accepting that responsibility and realizing his potential as a leader and manager straight away.  My dad has had a variety of careers since Katimavik; teaching management at Ryerson and George Brown, in Aboriginal business development in Ontario and with the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, and as the manager of Ontario’s Tourism Education Council.  To suggest that Katimavik was formative for my parents, that Katimavik guided them towards their careers based on their respective passions, interests and strengths, might be understating the case a little.

Like many young Canadians, there was a time when I felt totally directionless.  I didn’t know where to spend my energy and I was unaware of any inherent skills lying dormant in my bones.  In 1995 I found a sport, which has become my job, and I’m really happy it did.  But what if I didn’t have a Canoe club in my town to literally wander into 17 years ago?  A lot of kids don’t, so those questions go unanswered for them. 

Young people today are facing a crisis of relevance.  It’s not obvious to every kid where they’ll fit and what they have to offer society.  It’s these types of experiences; empowering work, structured and meaningful educational activities, that have provided over 30,000 Canadians with the understanding that fulfillment doesn’t come from what we “want to have”, but from what we “have to give”.

There over 1000 Canadian kids, whose questions were going to be answered this summer.  They had already signed up to work with Katimavik, and were slated to leave this July.  More than 50 Canadian communities, some desperate for this kind of help, already had 35 hours/week work plans laid out for them.  Katimavik wasn’t phased out, it was cancelled abruptly at the expense of Canadian youth and the communities they were preparing to serve.

The dual-value of this kind of community service cannot be overstated; simply put it is purposefully engaged youth, serving our communities.  That seems like well-spent taxpayer money to me.  I’m not an expert on government budgets and the inner financial workings of our nation.  Thankfully, Canada has some of those experts, and over the course of 2009-10 some of them did a very thorough study on Katimavik.  The study found thatthe federal government’s financial involvement in this type of initiative is [therefore] deemed to be justified.” Additionally, it stated that “the objectives of the Katimavik program support and mirror the government’s priorities” and that “Katimavik is a good fit with the Government of Canada’s youth programming.”

As any good study should, it has some suggestions for a strategy to increase efficiency and to continue to decrease the cost per participant, since that cost had a descending trend throughout the period of the study.  Katimavik’s reviews were pretty glowing. It never once suggested that it was worth scrapping.

I recycle, and I think that when something good and functional is a little broken, you should fix it.  That’s what the study was for, and that’s what it found, just a little room for improvement, here and there.

I believe that the first priority of a good government should be the same as Katimavik’s first priority; service.  It seems to me that the decision to toss Katimavik down the drain had nothing to do with service.  In fact, that decision represents a neglect of its duty to serve our communities, the youth who live there, and the young people anxious to travel to them to work, learn and serve. 

The decision to scrap Katimavik was an entirely politically motivated decision.  So when will politics in this country be devoted to service, instead of just, well, politics?