CHARLEMONT, MA — Zip guide Zach Morris stood on a platform, high up under a heavy canopy of maple and beech trees, on the first day of a week-long training for new guides at Zoar Outdoor one June afternoon.
As Morris began to lead trainee Abby Schlinger in belaying down to the ground, he noticed that each of their lanyards, which serve as their primary safety devices, were entwined. Morris didn’t panic. He taught the group a lesson on troubleshooting. “Hey, everybody,” he said, calling down to the trainees, standing below on the forest floor. “I’m going to take this moment to teach you about lanyard entanglement.” Morris held up both his and Schlinger’s lanyards to show trainees that they were clearly crossing one another. “It’s awkward, not dangerous,” he said. “It happens all the time.”
CHARLEMONT, MA — Rachel Maestri Hailey sees the Zoar Outdoor brand of canopy tour as an exploration—both of the outdoors and of the self.
“In the literal sense, we zip through the area, but more importantly, there is an exploration of oneself,” said Hailey, Zoar’s 35-year-old canopy tour manager. “Questions come up: Where does your comfort zone end, and your stretch zone begin? What does courage look like to you? There are multiple levels of personal discovery.”
Kelsey Henderson was a teenager the first time she went whitewater rafting with her father, Huckle May, at Zoar Outdoor in Western Massachusetts. Not one who was particularly familiar with nature, Henderson was nervous—especially when she got out on the rapids on the Deerfield River. She realized she wouldn’t just be floating downstream; the game was about staying in the raft and learning what to do if you fell out. Vivian Black guided Henderson’s group that day. May says Black took control and exuded confidence as she led and mentored. “Kelsey had never done anything like that,” May says. “There were a lot of female raft guides there. It was a good thing. It sent an important message.” Henderson is a nurse in Lansing, Michigan, now. At 21, she works hard and already owns her own home. Her father says that adventure sports helped her to understand she could be strong, successful and confident—like Black.
New to the Zoar Outdoor Paddlesports team in 2017, Amanda learns fast and is a joy to work with. We met Amanda last year around this time when Jim went out “recruiting”/paddling with area colleges pool programs. Amanda was a part of Hampshire College kayaking classes and had taken an interest in becoming an instructor. Read more about how Amanda started her employment with Zoar outdoor and we hope you get a chance to learn from this excellent instructor next summer!
If you're curious about whitewater kayaking, this is the best weekend of the summer to give it a try! These playful whitewater kayaks are a blast, and we're ready to give you the foundation of skills in a comfortable and supportive learning environment. Click Here
Every year, for one day, we get to one of Vermont’s hidden gems - the West River. The West River is a perfect mix of adventure and leisure - it has a little bit more adventure than the Zoar Gap and is a little mellower than the Dryway.