April 26, 2011

Free Paddling Passport Offerred

Ninth Graders

Ninth grade students across the country, including local freshmen, can
go paddling down the Blue River for free this season thanks to a new
program announced jointly by the Professional Paddlesports Association
(PPA) and Cave Country Canoes. Called the “9th Grade Paddle Pass,” the
program allows students to register and receive a passport that will get
them up to 10 free paddling trips with participating outfitters across
the U.S, said the program is designed to get local kids out on the
water, enjoying nature.

“Many of our local high school freshmen cross the Blue River every day
on their way to school, but they’ve never had the opportunity to explore
this treasure right in their own backyards,” Carol Groves said. “We’re
please to help PPA increase participation in paddling by young people,
which we hope will lead to them being good stewards of our natural

Program Promotes Activity

PPA decided to target ninth graders for the free paddling program
because “children entering high school are beginning to form patterns of
what their futures will become,” said Executive Director Rachel Wisner.
She cites studies showing that, compared with past generations; today’s
youth are more prone to obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder and impaired
social skills due to a lack of unstructured play time outdoors.

“The socially acceptable way of life for most teens is to sit inside in
front of a computer or television screen after school,” Wisner said. “We
want to reintroduce kids to the joys of spending time in the great

How to Register

To participate in the program, 9th graders must register at
www.paddlepass.com, and then
have a teacher or administrator verify the information and return it to
the PPA. The trade association will send qualifying students a passport
good for up to 10 free paddling trips, either at the same location or at
ten different participating outfitters. Freshmen may choose canoes or

Just a few restrictions apply. Students must have an adult sign for and
accompany them. It’s valid anytime Cave Country Canoes is open for the
half-day trip except for Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekend. Other
participating outfitters may have different restrictions, including
black-out dates on busy summer weekends.

River History

Boating on Blue River began in 1969 with local businessman Paul Harpe
renting first fishing boats and then canoes from his “Blue River Marina”
in Milltown. Since 1983 Cave Country Canoes has rented thousands of
canoes and kayaks on the river each summer.

Blue River was the first Indiana Stream to be designated a state scenic
river way in 1975. It’s known for its diverse wildlife numerous springs
and caves as well as fishing.