Kayak Kids Got Game

Monte and Noah Gutierrez 

Monte and Noah Gutierrez 

Noah and Monte Gutierrez and their mom, Ellie Rios, explored the Hudson as a family last summer in kayaks and a canoe during the Inwood Canoe Club’s Sunday morning Community Open House. To rev up for the 2014 season, I spoke with Monte and Noah to learn what lured them to the water and what kept them coming back to kayak with ICC several times over the summer. (Full disclosure: Monte likes to sleep in on Sundays, so he had just one great kayak trip. Noah signed up early and often.) 

Eleven-year-old Monte wrote an essay about the adventure, beginning with his walk to the boathouse: “I get to go through a kind of forest passage, near the Hudson River. The view of the George Washington Bridge is a sight to see. Just looking up and seeing that monument is amazing!” 

Reflecting on the experience of paddling, Monte wrote: “I did not know that I would actually enjoy kayaking. Especially someone like me, who likes to just kick back and play video games, like other kids. As you go through the water, you feel scared of falling in, so there is a sense of anxiousness that is just undeniable. But you’re actually safe and sound, so it’s like a roller coaster that you were always scared to go on, but when you finally get on it, you say: ‘That wasn’t so bad.’ It is very exciting to just get on the water and paddle through nice waves and feel the brush of wind on your face. You can really just relax and focus on going with the current...until it’s time to turn back. It was an exciting experience for me ... even as a one-timer.” 

Ten-year-old Noah Gutierrez said, “the first time was really fun and my mom and I went really fast in a double kayak.” He recalled “beautiful views at every angle” and observed that the Open House is “a learning experience for both the staff and the customers as they learn to love nature in their community, which to many seems broken. The experience teaches the community to come together and interact with each other.” 

Noah and Monte are avid athletes, strong swimmers, and can often be found sporting team uniforms on the ball fields of Inwood Hill Park. When asked how kayaking compares with other sports they enjoy, Noah replied: “It exercises us, so we can actually work out while still having fun. Paddling the kayak helps me work on my arms, so when I’m pitching the baseball, or throwing a football, or shooting a basketball, I have the strength I need to make it right.” Monte added, “It helps me jump because I have more energy down in my legs from building core and lower body strength.” 

If life did not include responsibilities like homework and cleaning their rooms, these two have definite ideas of where they’d paddle along the river. Monte said, “I’d go straight to Miami. My cousins are there. It’s hot. I like the heat and the team, the Miami Heat. Or I might go to Australia.” Then, reconsidering the geography and the strength required for such long voyages, Monte revised his plans and said, “I’ll put my kayak on another boat and go there.” Noah’s wanderlust leads him deeper into his own community, to kayak by the dock of the Dyckman Street marina and enjoy “the cool waters of the Hudson” and “a stargazing experience.”