WCKA Newsletter - December 2007

Academics finished strong this semester, with the student body voting to charge through the last three weeks with relatively no weekend breaks. This gave us time to compete at the highly anticipated Nile Freestyle Festival and go on a four-day safari to Murchison Falls National Park in Western Uganda.

Dan’s Literature classes finished the semester with a powerful non-fiction book called A Long Way Gone, by a Sierra Leonian boy named Ishmael Beah. The book was a firsthand account of Beah’s experiences as a child soldier for three years. US History was wrapping up the Civil War and the nineteenth century with a primary source paper, which was an analysis of a primary source. Primary sources included the Journals of Lewis and Clark, Voices from Slavery, and journals from civil war soldiers. In Government, students reviewed the platforms of presidential hopefuls, Civil Rights, Due Process of law and the functions and general stances of political parties. Spanish II finished studying the Preterit tense and came to class with vocabulary on kayaking, natural world/environment, and food/restaurants, There was extensive review of all prior subjects for the final. Spanish I finished with the goal of sustaining a conversation for as long as possible in their final, a skit. The students lasted for almost fifteen minutes, using all the Spanish they’d learned from this semester.

In Algebra II we finished up completing every possible quadratic function possible. They now know how to calculate the path of a flying baseball at any moment. In Chemistry, they worked on the five different types of chemical reactions and learned how to balance equations. In Biology, the final was on photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Learning how we get energy from the sun. Physics finished with a light brush over the subject of Quantum physics. In an emphatic stroke of inspiration and whimsy, we studied the anomalies that have been confounding physicists for the past century. In Algebra I, the student was solving linear equations, dealing with the slope and rate of change of lines, and finding intercepts of the x and y axis. The Geometry student finished up with finding areas of varying geometric figures, and preparing to prove triangle congruent. In Pre-Calculus, we spent the final quarter dealing with different exponent rules and logarithmic functions. The final chapter of the quarter involved finding coordinates, vertices, and foci of ellipses.

And a special thanks needs to be given to the Video class for putting the video together before we left Africa, in order to utilize the DVD burning tower at the Nile River Explorers video studio. This enabled all of us to be able to show our family and friends the semester video as soon as we got home. It’s definitely an epic video, and everyone should be encouraged to see it.


The Hairy Lemon, our island resort paradise that housed us for almost three weeks, allowed us to train extensively on one of the world’s best surf waves: Nile Special. Nile Special was only a ten-minute paddle up the eddy from the Hairy Lemon, so it was easy to paddle for morning workouts—or even before morning workouts. Morning workouts at the Lemon that weren’t kayaking consisted of yoga, chicken fighting in the Nile, volleyball, and several leg workouts in anticipation for ski season.

The Nile Freestyle Festival happened on the 30th of November through the 3rd of December. There were three events, the first being the freestyle surf competition, which we competed in. The second day was the endurance race, a 45 km paddle from the top of the Day 1 section to the bottom of the Day 2 section—in playboats. The third day was the Boda Boda race, which was a multi-sport event that involved kayaking, running up the hill, racing boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) with your kayak back to NRE, and an obstacle course.

World Class only competed the first day, at Nile Special. There was a large crowd of local spectators lining each side of the river. There wasn’t a junior class, so we were all competing against the likes of Steve Fisher, Sam Ward and Karl Moser. Josh Bechtel was nudged out of finals, but took fifth overall, with our own Michael Palmer finishing in the top ten as well. It was so exciting watching the local Ugandan paddlers and Steve Fisher tear up the surf wave that has, for the past few years, helped define the pinnacle of freestyle kayaking.


We left the Freestyle Festival after the first day because we’d booked a four-day safari to Murchison Falls National Park in Western Uganda. The trip consisted of a similar game drive to the one we’d had in Botswana on the Delta on the shore of Lake Albert, but then we also were motor-boated up river through all the crocodiles and hippos to Murchison Falls. Many paddlers call Murchison the most powerful section of river in the world, because almost the whole Nile feeds into a narrow, 10 meter crack and bounces off the walls as it falls 85 feet. Locals say that sometimes hippos would swim in and there would be a little splash of red, and then nothing. It was definitely a magnificent site to see. Its grandeur rivaled that of Victoria Falls, and we felt compelled to spread some more of Max’s ashes at Murchison. After the Falls, we spent the night in the jungle, Chimp trekking in the Budongo Forest, an area famous for hosting the studies of Jane Goodall. After four days of bouncing in the back of an overland truck, everyone was relieved to get back to our island getaway.

During our last week, we moved back up to Bujagali Falls, and took finals at Eden Rock campground. We spent another day helping out Soft Power, this time driving to a faraway village to educate the locals about malaria, and to sell mosquito nets. We also took time to try some local restaurants, which offered cuisine such as mashed plantains, millet, beans and chapatis. The food wasn’t bad, but it could not rival the cheesy-bean toasties and banana/mango smoothies that we found on our second-to-last day at De Nile Café next to Eden Rock.

We left in two groups, with our good-byes coming before we were ready. As we all go our separate ways, and experiences from this semester become memories, I think we’ll all realize how close our group was at the end, which was our goal accomplished—to have the tightest WCKA group ever. If you don’t believe me, watch the semester video.

WCKA Newsletter - November 2007

The academics have been going really great so far this month. In British Literature, the class just finished up A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and is starting on A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. In American Literature we finally finished Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and are now also starting on A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. In Spanish 1, students are working on reflexive verbs and family members. In Physics, we’re just finishing up on energy, and now working on the Doppler Effect, Bernoulli’s Principle, and Archimedes’s Principle.

American History has just finished up on the Mexican-American War and the increase tension of slavery, and is now entering the Civil War and reading primary documents of history during that time period. Spanish 2 is now working on the preterit and reviewing the work over that year, after just finishing up on reflexive and action verbs. Government class is studying the due process and civil liberties/rights. They’re also beginning a letter to their local representative about a local issue of the student’s choice.

In chemistry, the class is learning the concept of the mole and how to calculate measuring quantities. They’re now working on how to balance equations, and studying five different chemical reactions. Algebra 2, the class is learning about the quadratic formulas and how they relate to real life, such as gravity and velocity. Biology has just finished the functions of cells and their organelles, and is now studying photosynthesis. In Videography class, we’re working on putting together the all the small videos we have of the first quarter for the semester video.

Algebra is working on rates of change, dealing with slopes and lines and how they deal with the real world. Algebra has just finished up on absolute value and inequalities. Geometry is just finished up on Pythagorean triples, and areas of triangles, trapezoids, and regular polygons. Pre-calculus has just finished with different properties of functions and is starting on exponents and logarithms.

-Chad Skogstad

Athletics are on the up and up. Today marks our first full day at The Hairy Lemon, the tropical island oasis we currently call home. After a few weeks on the Zambezi, everybody is excited for the relaxing change in pace. The river run back in Zambia was epic, as is the playboating here in Uganda. We had some interesting days in Zambia for sure, the mighty Zambezi is one of the best river runs in the world and its big water characteristic was amazing, but on the down side it is in an enormous canyon. Not to take anything away from such a sweet river, but now in Uganda, the put in is literally at the doorstep of our cabins. It’s niiiiiice.

Now to the mighty White Nile and Nile Special! We spent our first week on the day one section of the Nile. The big water rapids were super fun. While we were there we could walk to the put-in and enjoy a plethora of options down all the different channels. Some of the big rapids include Bladerunner, the Hump, Ribcage, Silverback, Jungle Book, and Bujagali Falls. All the rapids are enormous but have relatively easy lines for being so monstrous.

Since then we have moved to the Hairy Lemon, which is located on the bottom of the Day 2 section of the run. Now that we are camped out just downstream of one of the best waves in the world, group moral is better than ever. There is a play hole at the camp ground which the all A-students are allowed to play at during free periods, and in the afternoons we split the group between the two spots to shorten the line at Special. At Special everyone has been going bigger than ever. People are learning new tricks, and the progression is huge. The wave is super-awesome-gnarly-wicked!!!

-Sam Freihofer

In the past four weeks at WCKA we have done some extracurricular activities. Some of these activities included our two day safari in Chobe National Park, a dinner at one of the local villages in Zambia, a trip to Victoria Falls, and our work with Soft Power Education in Uganda. On October 25th and 26th we went on a safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana, it was a two-day drive around the park and a boat tour on the Chobe River. Throughout the safari we saw tons of animals including: lions, giraffes, elephants, birds etc…

After the safari with another week of paddling and school, the students decided they wanted to do a visit to one of the local villages. So the teachers set it up with some of the porters and we paddled on the lower Zambezi ending the day at one of the villages near the take out. The locals welcomed us warmly; they invited us into their houses and offered us food and drink. We hung out at the village talking with the locals and watching them make crafts. Later that night they made us dinner. It was probably the first time that most of us had the opportunity to eat with our hands. The meal was great, it consisted of shima (corn meal) with meat and veggies to dip it in. After experiencing the local culture and customs we headed back to camp.

Near the end of our stay in Zambia we headed to Victoria Falls one of the seven natural wonders of the world. While at Vic. Falls we hung out in the Devils Armchair, a pool at the top of the 300ft waterfall, and looked over the edge. Then before we left the falls we spread some of our dear friend Max’s ashes on one of the coolest places on the planet. Then after another couple days in Zambia we headed up to Uganda to continue paddling and school at the White Nile. Our project while in Uganda was to help Soft Power Education, where we had donated money from our Paddle-A-Thon on the Gauley River to build sanitation stations at local schools. We spent two days building sinks outside of bathrooms for the kids to wash their hands and taught them the importance of hygiene to good health.

-Nate Garcia

WCKA Newsletter - March 2005

Well, our 10 weeks in Ecuador have finally come to an end and through some miracle of time and motion, and who-knows-what else, we feel simultaneously as though we have been here forever, while having just arrived. Now it is time for a little R&R with our families and friends before we join together again for the second leg of the semester; the West Coast Tour.

Despite the lackadaisical atmosphere that is synonymous with a beach trip, our few weeks in Canoa turned out to hold some of the most impressive play boating we have seen in Ecuador. Every day, the surf churning a mere 300 feet from our beds provided both students and faculty with an endless array of near-perfect waves, while spectators were generally given an awesome show of the newest aerial freestyle moves. The relatively small size of Canoa’s waves also allowed almost every student and teacher the chance to try out the other beach activities, from body surfing to boogie boarding and good old fashioned board surfing. Surfing was not the only physical activity we indulged in while at the beach however as we continued our running and callisthenic workouts when the morning surf wasn’t at its best. While leaving the warm air and sunny skies of the beach was hard, it was a fairly easy transition to the mountain life of Borja where Small World Adventures is located. Our riverfront lodging provided us with easy shuttles, as we generally found ourselves either putting in or taking out ‘at home.’ While in Borja, the steep mountains and daily rainfall of the Quijos river valley provided us with some of the best down-river kayaking we had seen in Ecuador. With so many awesome runs so close, it often came down to the flip of a coin to decide which run we would do on a given day. With most of the runs coming one after another, it was not uncommon for us to connect 2 or 3 sections on the same river in a single afternoon. Morning workouts also bumped up in intensity, as they generally began with a 10-minute uphill run before playing Ultimate Frisbee or Soccer. All in all, it seemed like Borja was just the place to end this trip with a bang.

We have been especially fortunate this March when it comes to educational opportunities. First of all, both the beach and our riverfront accommodations at Small World gave us ample room for classes; even with multiple classes occurring simultaneously, it was possible for each class to find a quiet space apart, making for a very conducive learning atmosphere. Also, with little traveling this month it was possible to continue each week of class without interruption. Despite the impending break, classes continued as usual and with undiminished intensity, right to the end. English classes have finished their readings for this quarter and are currently working on creative and analytical writing projects. Government continues to study Congress and the Presidency, with ample discussions on current affairs. Physics class is continuing study of the world around us by learning about electrostatics, while Biology class continues to digest new information on human nutrition and the intestinal system. Chemistry has just finished learning how to balance chemical equations; Algebra class is studying logarithms; and both Geometry and Pre-calc are studying trigonometric functions. Calculus has just begun studying separable differential equations and, finally, Spanish classes have been making the best of this unique immersion opportunity. While we will all miss the educational opportunities available in a country as diverse as Ecuador, we also look forward to what lies ahead during our travels in the U.S.

This March has turned out to be one of WCKA’s most eventful to date when it comes to cultural interaction. While still at the beach, we were presented the opportunity to visit the world-famous Isla Corazón, a mangrove forest on a heart-shaped island just south of Canoa. The island, which is located in the middle of a bay, is home to the largest Frigate bird population in the Pacific and can only be explored by canoe. Our local guides showed us the intricacies of a mangrove forest, the diversity of wildlife there, and taught us how to hunt for crabs, which involves sticking one’s arm shoulder-deep into the mud. It was most definitely an experience that we will not forget any time soon. This was not, however, to be our last amazing experience in Ecuador. To start off our final week, the small town of Bom Bón (a 30 minute drive from Borja) allowed World Class to host a tree-planting, kayak-teaching extravaganza in their picturesque mountain surroundings. The day began with a three-hour kayak clinic, where the bravest of Bom Bón’s citizens were offered the chance to jump into a kayak and paddle around. Some of the participants even ventured as far as learning how to roll, with two of the clinic’s students mastering the skill before lunch. The whole clinic: participants, spectators, teachers, and all, then climbed the hill to Bom Bón, where World Class was served a spectacular lunch courtesy of the town’s best chefs. The day continued with the planting of 250 trees, followed by an intense game of soccer on the town’s playing field. Though we fancy ourselves full-time athletes, we were soundly trounced by the locals’ amazing soccer skills and ball control. We were happy to come out of the match with two goals to their six. As we drove away, a tacit agreement seemed to have been made for a rematch when we return.

We hope everyone has a great break, see you in April!
-Philly Williams

WCKA Newsletter - February 2005

February was an action-packed month at World Class. Traversing much of Ecuador we have left Tena, enjoyed Santo Domingo, and begun our discoveries of Canoa. Considering the amount of fun Ecuador has provided in the last month and a half, we look forward to the adventures March will bring.

After leaving the rusty gym, rock-strewn playing field, and wide variety of paddling in Tena, we arrived in Santo Domingo. Here we were able to continue a morning workout schedule similar to Tena’s, but unrivaled in intensity. Workouts consisted of Ultimate Frisbee on a playing field near our hotel or a continuation of our weight-training at a nearby gym. The gym was for more than pumping iron however as step aerobics classes, Tae-Bo, and salsa dancing also took place; allowing both students and teachers alike the opportunity to try alternative ways to workout. Although fun, the morning workouts were not the highlight of our athletic experience in Santo Domingo, the paddling was. Fortunately, for us river rats, the skies opened up during our stay giving us the opportunity to try several different local runs. These included the big water play waves of the Toachi and Blanco, the fast, dynamic wave on the Baba (which had an excellent class III-IV run just upstream), and some low-volume class IV on the Damas. Santo Domingo’s plethora of excellent whitewater allowed for very few repeated runs and an endless stream of adventures. For now, we are enjoying two paddling workouts a day, along with the occasional ocean swim. Our time in Canoa has only just begun and we look forward to the many athletic excitements provided at the beach.

While still in Tena we witnessed Carnival first hand. Carnival is a celebration taking place at the beginning of Lent. The school went through a week of getting pummeled by water balloons, hosed down by odd scented shaving cream, and squirted by water guns. At the end of the week, one group ventured into Tena to see what the Saturday night of Carnival was like. The night was highlighted by dancing on an empty basketball court in front of 500 Ecuadorian people, with no music as a guide and, of course, in the pouring rain. On the Final day of Carnival, some of our strongest paddlers participated in a kayak race that was included in a large festival on the banks of the Mishualli. Katie Scott won the Women’s division and Scott Ligare placed second in the Men’s behind the one and only Rescue Dan. After this excitement, everyone packed up their gear and we went from the small town atmosphere of Tena to the hustle and bustle of Santo Domingo. Since our time in Santo Domingo was short, we were only able to organize one outing which turned out to be a driving tour of the city and surrounding area, followed by lunch at a local eatery. For now, we are enjoying the relaxing atmosphere that can only be found on the beach and can only be properly accompanied by a hammock and fresh coconut milk.

Even though February was a short month, we were able to cram in our required work and then some. The classroom setting in Tena differed from the relaxing poolside atmosphere in Santo Domingo, but both worked equally well for school, allowing each class peace and quiet for their studies. The school setting has changed quite dramatically in the past few days however as classes are currently reporting in under thatched roofs, with the Pacific Ocean a stone’s throw away. While English classes are reading and writing in hammocks, physics class is researching the way light works. Geometry class is getting geared up for building sand castles on Canoa’s soft, sandy beaches and with the wind finally picking up, their specially engineered kites are ready to fly. Biology is diving into aquatic ecosystems and looking forward to dissecting crabs found along the beach. Finally, government class has been utilizing trips to Internet cafés in order to research recent demonstrations right here in Ecuador, as well as to keep up to date on the Bush White House. With so many academic opportunities available here in Canoa, it is no wonder why both students and faculty alike are firmly embedded in their studies.

Peace and love from all of us out in the races.

The Publications class: Adriene, Andrea, Katie, Mindy, Nick, Philly, and Wes

WCKA Newsletter - January 2005

After leaving the bitter winter wonderland of Denver and navigating our way through the chaos of international travel (complete with a boat-and-paddle embargo), we have settled into our cozy home at the hostel Villa Belen. Now that we have all reunited under the warm Ecuadorian sun, it seems clear that this will be one of our best semesters to date.

Even though it is still early in the semester, the students are quickly adapting to the daily routine. Since we are living in a Spanish-speaking country, Spanish class takes place 24 hours a day. Despite the hustle and bustle of Latin America, the World Literature students have been able to immerse themselves in the story of Savages, a book about the effects on indigenous culture by oil drilling in the Amazonian rainforest. The Physics and Science classes have been utilizing the diverse landscape conveniently located in our back yard by studying the motion and energy of waves. Biology labs have involved the study of pigeon-sized cockroaches and travels to the local island preserve; whereas Geometry class is still waiting for the wind to pick up so they can put their mathematically engineered kite designs to use. Finally, Calculus class is taking advantage of its 1:1 student to teacher ratio to study Riemann sums and Simpson’s Rule.

We began the new athletic year by attending the Napo River Festival and entering the downriver race. The Napo River Festival celebrates Ecuador’s Napo region and the accompanying watersheds. Organized by the Ecuadorian River Institute (, the event brings the entire river community together from the indigenous community to tourists like us. Sporting sunburns and sore muscles the next day, we took our second river trip down the Jatunyacu, a class 2-3 river with a highly entertaining hole. Our next adventure included the Mishualli which offered a wide range of difficulty from low volume boulder gardens to big water play. Immersing ourselves in the local culture, soccer has been rotated into our morning workout schedule. Access to a gym across the street also allows us to complement our cardio workouts by pumping old-school iron. January came to a close with an informal rodeo at Hatless Hole on the Jatunyacu. After official judging, Andrea and AJ were deemed the winners and awarded awesome (and very valuable) aviator sunglasses.

Tena’s small size and friendly atmosphere has allowed for full immersion into Ecuadorian culture. Activities have included the usual internet and phone runs, trips to local discothèques, as well as the beginning of a new school-wide fascination for a treat called BonIce. But we have not limited ourselves simply to Tena’s wonders. Recently, we commandeered a local bus in order to visit the famous water slides outside of nearby Archidona. The slides provided for great times (with Chris achieving the most-air award), as well as a brief spelunking expedition through the water park’s natural cave system. Additionally, we have been able to exploit our close proximity to Ecuador’s vast jungle by spending a self-guided overnighter deep in the Amazon rain forest. This allowed us to get a close up and inside look at one of the most diverse rain forests in the world. An experience that none of us will forget.

Thank you’s this month go out wholeheartedly to Matt Terry of the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute and Jeff Brummel from the Crossroads Hostel for their assistance with getting our kayaks to Ecuador, along with everything else. Norma, Jekel, and the gang at the Villa Belen, you have been incredible. Dan Dixon, thanks for looking out for us, and of course Louis, Marco, and Louis Jr., we appreciate your informal Spanish lessons and excellent driving skills.

Written by Andrea, Adriene, Katie, Philly, Wes, and Mindy

WCKA Newsletter - December 2004

World Class wrapped it up in early December, holding finals and tucking into one last rotisserie pig at the Hairy Lemon; taking a few (never enough) final rides on the river; and saying our goodbyes to the Nile and the many good people we met along the way.

After a few days off of school for preparation, students took final exams, wrote final papers, and finished up final projects from the 3rd to the 7th. Aside from a few, scattered, anomalous results, everyone did quite well, proving once again that paddling and studying success are never mutually exclusive. Teachers worked out grades and wrote up narratives after returning stateside, and semester reports were mailed on the 22nd. Congratulations are in order all around, as it appears to have been a most successful semester academically.

While winding up finals and our stay at the lovely Hairy Lemon, paddling continued at Malalu and Nile Special, with a few last excursions to the Back Wave following our return to Eden Rock. While nothing particularly spectacular occurred, let it be recognized that a much-improved group of paddlers has returned from the Zambezi and the Nile, with many already planning their returns and future assaults upon the waves of Africa.

World Class was feted on the 9th at the pottery center we had worked on for Soft Power. We got to see the newly completed buildings, clinic, and jet fuel-fired (no kidding) kiln. We also met again with the apprentices, their families, and many other community members; while a few brave souls volunteered for dance instruction, to the accompaniment of an awesome drum band and an equally awesome end-of-the-monsoon downpour. Later that evening a barbecue was held at Eden Rock for the pottery center staff and participants, after which some of us threw together some pretty impressive pirate costumes for a farewell bash at NRE.

On the morning of the 10th, the first group took off for Entebbe, leaving seven stragglers to follow on the 12th. Both groups spent one night and one day in Johannesburg, followed by a nineteen and a half-hour flight to Atlanta. From Atlanta most flew home, while a few hardy souls piloted the vans and trailers back to Missoula. The good news is that, as opposed to the trip east in August, this time we got to stop for SLEEP a couple of times along the way; and also managed to stay a few days ahead of the bad weather that has since descended upon the Midwest.

Thank you's to all the usual suspects and a few more: Shreder, Dan, Polly, and Tyler, for documenting our adventures and just for being there and adding another dimension to our otherwise pedestrian (just kidding) lives.

Happy New Year to all! Stay tuned for news from Ecuador and dispatches from spring semester's Publications class.

P.S. - Garcito get better soon. We will miss your enthusiasm and energy. Also, Big Garcia (AKA Gar-Dawg) CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your coursework; and Sam, we will miss you like crazy as well and look forward to meeting up (with all or any of you) somewhere in the West of America, the sooner the better.

Last but not least, welcome to the incoming students, be prepared for an epic time.

WCKA Newsletter - November 2004

November was an incredible, and incredibly full, month for World Class. We traveled over 4,000 kilometers through East Africa, saw awe-inspiring sights, met awe-inspiring people, and paddled awe-inspiring whitewater.

While many of the students expected our overland adventure to be a reprieve from studies, it turned out to be a continual academic experience. One of our stops was at an orphanage for baby elephants and rhinos, another at a giraffe-rehabilitation center. In each place we were able to get a closer, more intimate understanding of some of the planet’s wild and wonderful animals. Our journey through the Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti Plain of Tanzania provided us as well, with many opportunities for knowledgeable guides to impart information about the countless animals we encountered. Despite the jostling of our overland vehicle, and our many hours of traveling both in the truck and in the safari jeeps, we were able to complete more than a full week of classes before arriving in Uganda. Our current coursework included study of the discovery of the Nile in Cultural Studies; Fluid Dynamics in Physics; Integrals in Calculus; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in American Lit.; Heart of Darkness in World Lit.; and My Traitor’s Heart in Brit Lit.. All teachers and students are preparing for their exams and final papers, with only a few more class days left before exam week and our return to the States in mid-December.

Our two-week overland trip was not all just sitting in a jouncey truck, looking out the window, and watching the African landscape go by at 80 KPH. While on the road we found time for strength and core workouts, as well as a few games of Ultimate and Capture the Flag to mix it up. Once we arrived at Bujagaali Falls, on the White Nile, we found ourselves in shape and eager to paddle.

Our arrival at the Nile held the anticipation of surfing Nile Special and Malalu, two of the best waves in the world. The two sections of the Nile we have been paddling have rapids ranging from Class III to Class V. The day-one section, called Silverback, is a 10 kilometer run in a Class III/IV section. The day-two section, which is a Class III/IV play run, is a fifteen kilometer run that has an abundance of play waves and holes as well as two of the best kayaking waves in world. When it comes time to paddle after classes, the students split up into two groups and have the option of running Silverback, or Day Two; throwing huge aerial maneuvers on Nile Special and Malalu.

The month of November proved to be rich in cultural activities, as the first half of the month we spent on our overland trip. For thirteen glorious days we explored East Africa, beginning in Livingston, Zambia, traveling across Tanzania and Kenya, and ultimately ending up in Uganda at the headwaters of the mighty Nile River.

While in Tanzania, we stopped briefly for a 3-day excursion into the Serengeti Plain and the Ngorogoro Crater to see close-up some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife. At our Serengeti campground we were instructed, once night fell, to stay close to camp or “Animals Might Attack.” Needless to say, no one left their seats around the campfire to go exploring at night. By the end of our safari, we had seen lions, leopards, elephants, wildebeests, flamingos, cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, gazelle, and enough zebras to make your head spin.

At the elephant orphanage we watched seven small elephants, ranging in age from four months to two years, playing in the mud with each other and their human “mentors;” we learned about their individual histories and heard about plans for their re-introduction into the wild. At the giraffe sanctuary we stood on a terrace which put us at eye level with the giraffes; from there we fed them, and were allowed to pet them so long as the food kept coming. A few students held the giraffes’ food pellets between their own lips and the giraffes had to “kiss” them in order to get at the food! All in all, our overland trip turned out to be an awesome AND epic adventure.

On the 12th we arrived in Jinja, Uganda, where we were introduced to the Soft Power Education staff and crew. At a Soft Power constructed primary school we were serenaded by about a hundred students; we saw another school which the organization was in the process of fixing up, and one that they were preparing to begin work on, all with the volunteer assistance of overland trekkers and white water adventurers. We had the opportunity to work on the construction of a pottery center near our camp. We shoveled, hauled, and pounded mud, laid brick, threw pots, and sculpted busts of each other and of the pottery apprentices. We also met a whole bunch of terrific little kids, who pitched in and helped us at the site and then held tight to our hands as they escorted us safely back to the road. We were able to see what an amazing operation Soft Power is, which made the $5000 (!!!) we raised for them all the more meaningful.

Finally, we heard from an aid worker, stories of the little-known guerrilla war which has been going on for years along the Sudan border and of its terrible impact on the people, especially the children, there. We all left this presentation feeling particularly lucky to have been born and raised in a country where we don’t have to worry about being kidnapped in the middle of the night to fight for someone else’s cause.

Overall, November proved to be one of the most culturally rich and diverse months in World Class history.

Thank You’s go out to many people, especially Matt, our driver, and Bernard, our cook and pal on the overland; our guides in the Serengeti and Ngorogoro; Mike and Bonnie for gracefully putting up with our madness for two weeks; David, Henry, The Bow & Arrow guy, and all the rest of the staff at Eden Rock; Jamie; Maddy, Georgie, and everyone at Soft Power; the NRE crew; and, finally, Rob, Erin, and Austin at the Hairy Lemon, who are still taking good care of us on their island paradise.

By: Philly, Mike, and A.J.

Uganda = Heaven

The White Nile river flows from Africa's largest fresh water source and then continues through Uganda to eventually meet the Blue Nile to create the mighty Nile River. As the river flows on its course to Cairo it runs through some of the planet's best whitewater. The spot is ideal for World Class because the river offers 40 miles of big water rapids with plenty of challenges for all levels of whitewater kayakers.

WCKA splits its time between the Eden Rock campground in Bujagali Falls, and the island paradise oddly named the Hairy Lemon. Eden rock is a secluded campground that provides all the amenities while being located right next to legendary Bujagali Falls and the infamous Silverback section. This quick 8 kilometer run holds more quality rapids than most major rivers. It is also the site for the new Bujagali dam that will flood the top part of the White Nile upon completion. Paddlers around the world are migrating to the White Nile to experience this stretch of river before it is inundated.

40 miles downstream lies the paradise island turned kayaking hot spot, the Hairy Lemon. Australian fishing enthusiasts originally turned the island into a fishing location, but its close proximity to the Nile Special wave quickly made it the place for kayaking tourists. Adding to the appeal the Hairy Lemon is an island in the middle of the White Nile secluding it from noisy tourists and rowdy rafting customers. World Class has the luxury of staying at the island during the 2007 Nile Freestyle Festival allowing the students to test themselves against kayaking's best.

Soft Power Health

Soft Power Health is a US based nonprofit organization that operates a community clinic in Uganda. The clinic is run by the kayaking Doctor Jessie Stone, and focuses on increasing health education and preventing malaria in the country. World Class teams up with Soft Power to raise money through the Paddle-a-thon and to help with the educational programs in riverside villages. In 2007, WCKA spent a day with the program teaching grade school classes about the benefit of proper hygiene. With Dr. Stone's guidance and the help of a Lusogan translator, the students had the chance to become the teachers and make a difference in young peoples lives.

For a full write up on the project please visit the Service Project page.





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