It’s a warm July day, and LCEC summer campers climb into canoes, ready to head down the Yahara River. Everyone is excited…well, not everyone. Fear of the water is real and heavy for some of the children…and none more than Maya.

She cries for five minutes before agreeing to get in the canoe. Apprehensively, she sits down. After a short paddle, the group stops for a swim, and kids clamber overboard.

Not Maya. She sits rigid and refuses. No one pushes her. She watches the fun. A few minutes later she sticks one toe in the water. Minutes later one wet toe turns into a foot. Still later it’s a leg. And then she’s in!

As she frolics with friends, staff members celebrate. Maya is not only overcoming her fear of water, she’s also getting to experience a rare moment of the unburdened joy of just being a kid. And when it’s time to head back to Rutabaga, who do you think is the last one back in a canoe? Maya!

This extraordinary day was made possible by the enthusiastic staff of Rutabaga Paddlesports, a 35-year-old organization owned and operated by canoers and kayakers. Here’s a big thanks for years of partnership to get kids on the water–and years of adventure yet to come.