Kids, adults get feet wet with Fast and Fun

Aspiring water hounds from all over the Northwest gathered at the Hood River Inn Tuesday and Wednesday to participate in U.S. Sailing’s Fast and Fun program.

Approximately 325 kids and adults from as far away as Friday Harbor, Wash., tried their hand at windsurfing, kayaking and multi-hull sailing with help from Hood River WaterPlay, U.S. Sailing and a host of volunteers.

Even better, all the activities were offered completely free of charge.

“Education and opportunity are what we’re after,” said Art Stevens, one of the U.S. Sailing volunteers traveling the country to get people excited about sailing. “We like to tie in with an existing school like WaterPlay so that once people get into it, they’ll have a better chance of sticking with it.”

Before stopping in Hood River, Stevens and a crew of Fast and Fun volunteers passed through Seattle and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, toting with them a fleet of Hobie Cat catamarans, sit-on-top kayaks and entry-level windsurfing boards.

“We’ve always wanted to come to Hood River,” said Stevens, who spent the entire 2001 summer promoting the program on the East Coast. “And when Jak (Wilberscheid, owner of Hood River WaterPlay) got in touch with us, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity.”

Wilberscheid and business partner Carla Albright spent the past month-plus promoting Fast and Fun’s visit to Hood River. And, while they were pleased with the program’s success, they had hoped for even more local enthusiasm.

“325 people isn’t bad for mid-week,” said Wilberscheid, “but we had hoped for more. Our goal was just to get people to come out and play, have a little fun on the water, and learn a new activity.”

Wilberscheid said that, while the Fast and Fun program focuses on getting youth involved in sailing, it is open to people of all ages.

“We’re focusing on kids eight to 80,” he said. “We even had one kid out there who was 84 years young. Exposure to sailing is what this is all about.”

One of the highlights at this week’s gathering was an appearance by KOIN News Channel 6 out of Portland, which featured Fast and Fun on its nightly newscast Tuesday.

“We were a little surprised, but very grateful,” said Wilberscheid. “Every little bit helps — especially right now, the way the economy has been. But we’re just going to keep on hustling.”

Fast and Fun will now move to Los Angeles, where volunteers expect upwards of 1,000 kids to participate in the free clinic.

“The message we’re sending to kids is that they can be successful,” Stevens said. “Windsurfing and sailing are sports you have to learn how to do by yourself. Once these kids decide that they want to do it, nothing can stop them. There is nothing more powerful than a made-up mind.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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