SALAMANCA – The Central School District of the City of Salamanca hosted the Salamanca Community Kayaking Day on Saturday, where people had the opportunity to learn more about kayaking and experience an excursion on the Allegheny River.
As part of the District’s Adult Education / Community Program, the event was under the leadership of Aaron Straus, Adult Education Administrator and STEAM Education Coach.
Gene Jankowski, who teaches science during the school day and coordinates the Summer Adventure Camp & Kayak program with Richard Wade, said it was a shared custody program because it combines adult education and Kayaking adventure.
Two groups launched their kayaks behind the Holy Cross Club – one at 11:00 am and the second at 12:30 pm They paddled down the river and completed their trip behind the high school on Front Avenue. Straus said the kayakers used two new docks made possible by a grant obtained by Sandi Brundage, who works for the city of Salamanca.
âThe ports allow participants to load and unload their kayaks without going through muddy sediment, which is strewn in Ohi: yo ‘water,â he said. “The launch made a difference in the experience, as participants could focus on keeping the river safe rather than walking through the mud.”
Along the way, participants saw herons, ospreys and mallards. Straus said the group noticed an adult male bald eagle flying towards its nest along the river during the trip.
âSir. Jankowski explained to the group that the bald eagle’s nest was / are a rare sight in New York State,â he said. âIn 1970 there was only one only active bald eagle nest in New York state and it has produced no eagles. Wildlife restocking efforts are protecting and preserving several nests throughout the NYS, including the one we saw during the trip. “
Straus said the kayaks were brought in for the first year of the STEAM camp, as well as for community engagement events. Due to the need for someone to coordinate all the logistics, safety and maintenance of the kayaks involved in kayaking, the Kayak-Adventure program eventually evolved into its own program, led by Jankowski and Wade. He said the STEAM Camp, Adult Education, and Adventure programs often work together for special programming such as this event.
Jankowski said when they got the kayaks in 2018, one of his plans was to offer river trips to the community. The school would provide the kayaks, paddles, life jackets, certified staff and transportation. They received support from the school to offer this activity to the community.
To provide storage and a way to transport kayaks and gear, the transportation department transformed a school bus into a kayak bus and painted it red. Jankowski said they had 32 kayaks, paddles, life jackets and safety gear. The public just needs to show up for a little ride on the river, and they’ll take care of the rest.
Seneca Middle School recently took seventh graders to Allegany State Park to kayak on Red House Lake with Seneca certified staff. Jankowski said the Summer STEAM Camp run by Straus focused on water in their first year and they did a river descent as part of that camp.
According to Jankowski, Adventure Camp was developed as a summer activity to get students kayaking, starting in the summer of 2019. It has expanded this year to a few other activities, including a trip to Moss Lake in the county. d’Allegany and a trip to Rock City. To park. Adventure Camp is also coordinating the eighth grade trip to Sky High Adventure in Holiday Valley.
âIt was a group effort all along. The school district has supported this by certifying the staff, training our students, and then doing that for the community, âhe said. “The Adventure Camp was the way to connect kayaking and other summer activities with our students.”
Jankowski said the school also pays for its American Canoe Association (ACA) memberships as it certifies staff. He said they had certified 26 staff from Salamanca since 2018 and four other staff from neighboring school districts who have also had or are starting kayaking programs. Next year, they will have their first group of certified employees to renew.
âCOVID has slowed the expansion of the kayaking program,â he said. âWe are considering renting the kayaks to the community during the summer, through the high school business department. We hope it will start next summer. “
Straus said they had always envisioned the event as evolving into a community-driven program that would support outdoor recreation and tourism in Salamanca. He said that much like in Allegany State Park where visitors can rent paddle boats and kayaks, they worked with the school district to put systems in place so that members of the Salamanca community could rent a kayak from the school for the day at no or minimal cost and / or community groups could go down on river events.
âIt’s a great way to educate the community about kayaking safety and to provide a safe way to expose everyone to a great community resource, the Allegheny River,â Jankowski said.