We are heading into our 8th season of providing standup paddle boarding experiences in Pittsburgh! In that time, we’ve been honored to introduce thousands of people to standup paddleboarding (SUP), river surfing, watershed conservation, and whitewater SUP. Our love for paddling got us started, but it’s been the people we’ve met on this journey that have truly inspired us. You are the ones we have to thank as we celebrate being named Pittsburgh’s “Best Outdoor Experience” in 2018 by the Manual Awards!
There’s something about outdoor film festivals that makes you question what you’re capable of. The combination of immaculately captured places, harrowing adventures, and a cast of characters only conjured by sports involving leaps from cliffs, vertical climbs, or skate boards hurdling down mountain roads at 70-mph. But why are these festivals so moving?
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.
“IT’S SAFE, THE KIDS WILL BE FINE!” I yelled into my cell phone, trying to overcome a howling wind off the Gulf of Mexico. In spite of the ambient roar, I could hear doubt on the other end spinning like a turbine. Intuition, however, has a way of prevailing under duress, when communication is done on an instinctual level rather than through the confusion of words and reason.
At this full day retreat at Moraine State Park, you’ll step outside of your comfort zone and physical environment to spend the day feeling great. Sunshine, laughter, paddle boarding, yoga, and massage will get you into the physical state of feeling great. From there, I’ll coach you to figure out what’s keeping you stuck and learn how to identify and rewrite the beliefs you have about yourself and the world that limit your achievement, relationships, growth and joy.
For more information, please visit: SWEAT AND BUTTER
The Stonycreek Rendezvous is one of the best whitewater festivals in the country. Held at Greenhouse Park in Johnstown, PA, you can set up your tent on the shores of the Stonycreek River and surf the park wave under the lights at night while listening to local bands and the stomping of dancing feet as the river passes by.
Positioned at the end of a gloriously paved private road, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a utopia of outdoor fun. Mountain bike trails, high-ropes courses, and zip-lines adorn the property, and a well-stocked brewery is situated nicely above the competition whitewater channel where Olympians train and SurfSUP Adventures guides crash.
The city of three-rivers is paddleboard paradise, but a first-time paddler standing at Point State Park, the junction of the three major rivers, might feel differently. In the downtown areas, the rivers are wide with concrete borders that create turbulence that is uncomfortable for beginners. Additionally, commercial and recreational boating is a formidable challenge for peaceful, non-motorized water travel. So where can you go for a safe, friendly, and memorable first SUP session? Here are three options for you!