Nestled in the urban sprawl of Pittsburgh’s East End, The Mount Ararat Community Activity Center provides innovative programs and experiential learning to the area’s families and youth. Earlier this summer, the Center debuted a new program for a select group of students, part of which involved teaching them to surf in whitewater rivers.
WPXI’s, "Proud to be from Pittsburgh," is a program designed to highlight people who are doing good in our communities.”SurfSUP Adventures and First Waves founder, Ian Smith, worked with Channel-11 News Anchor, Peggy Finnegan, to document a First Waves event on the Pittsburgh Riverfront for the segment earlier this year.
The New River Gorge SUP Race has become the epicenter of whitewater paddleboard racing in the Eastern US, but not because of a cash purse (there isn’t one!) or fantastical prizes. Instead, this race has ingrained itself in the hearts of a community that it has helped to grow since its inception in 2011. The setting itself could be attributed to the race’s popularity. The New River Gorge and Fayetteville, the adjoining mountain town, is a quintessential hub for adventure and natural beauty. Still, the underlying values and genuine love that race founder, Melanie Hames, puts into this event is the defining ingredient. The West Virginia SUP scene is filled with passionate people like her, and this event has drawn competitors from around the world that all want a piece of it.
As the racers make the first turn in the PA SUP Championships at Moraine State Park, they are met with the sound of live music from the main stage of the Regatta at Lake Arthur. Thousands of people are sprawled out listening to the music, sifting through food trucks, and watching the sailboats, paddleboards and windsurfers jetting by. A backdrop of thick conifers gives way to blue skies above the horizon of the lake and this is only the beginning.
At SurfSUP Adventures, we have been dealt the opportunity to work with amazing partners and volunteers. The latest project in conjunction with VIP Sports was one of the most memorable. By working with Slippery Rock University volunteers and VIP Sports instructors, we were able to provide a standup paddleboarding experience to more than 60 youth participants that were blind or semi-blind. Here's a short film documenting the training process and the event itself! Enjoy!
The river wave at Greenhouse Park is little more than a pile of foam during the hot month of July in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Stonycreek River is the tamest version of itself and instead of whitewater enthusiasts, the park attracts sunbathers, tubers, and swimmers to its shores. What most have overlooked, however, is this wave’s potential as a training ground for the area’s youth to become river enthusiasts. When presented in the right way, the wave can capture the attention of teenagers better than the latest X-box and carve a path for outdoor recreation and education that is widely available but pervasively ignored. This is exactly what the First Waves Johnstown Program is able to provide to underserved youth in the area.
The first eco-tour of every year is always a special one. I am excited to see the changes in the landscape carved by winter’s touch, the emerging spring flowers, and the return of the Ospreys from their pilgrimage to South America.