Melissa at Cali Collective asked me and the other Junior Ambassadors to think about our pandemic experiences and write about adversity that we have overcome. Below is an edited version of what I sent her last week (as always thanks to my mom for helping edit my posts). It seems appropriate to share on Thanksgiving – it’s about making the best of what we have. ______________________________________________________________
Being a teenager during this pandemic has been full of challenges – from zoom-schooling, to being isolated from friends and relatives, to having everything cancelled.
For me, the adversity started at the outset of the pandemic. On March 12 around 2:00 am, while I was in France with Team Canada’s NextGen slalom kayak training program, my cell phone started ringing and ringing and ringing. It was my mother: “Chloe, wake up. This is a global emergency. The US is instituting a European Travel Ban. You must come home immediately.” So, I packed up all my stuff in the dark, woke up my coach to drive me to the airport, and left without even getting to say good-bye to my teammates. Unfortunately, I have not been able to return to the program since, despite having both French and Canadian nationalities.
This has been hard for me – my whole life I have spent many months a year in France and in Canada, where my mother is from. To overcome feeling stuck and the disappointment of giving up all my usual camps and coaches (like Keener Camp with Steven Wright and Slalom Camp with Michal Staniszweski), I have just focused on enjoying where I live.
For the past 8 months, I have become closer friends with local teens who love kayaking as much as I do. Together we have been running nearby rivers like the Truckee, the South Fork, the Yuba, the Tuolumne, the North Fork American, the North Stan, the Pit, the Rogue, etc. And we have supported and paddled with newer kayakers who have joined the sudden kayaking explosion in California. Not only are we all having a lot of fun – the world feels almost normal when we are on the river together – I do think our kayaking is progressing just by paddling together. We also have had the benefit of occasional kayak coaching from amazing boaters like Brooke Hess and Sage Donnelly and raft coaching from Sue Norman. Trying out lots of different boats has also made it more fun when we’re running the same rivers over and over again and it has, I think, improved our overall whitewater skills.
I hope to someday be able to travel again and rejoin the camps I love so much. But for now, I will continue to boat here through the winter and am already looking forward to what will hopefully be a high water spring season.
a few hours before the European travel ban went into effect
North Fork American – Chamberlain Falls
California Women’s U19 Raft Team