Members of the Maine Canoe and Kayak Racing Organization (Mackro), founded in 1986, realize that for (Mackro) to survive they need to recruit the next generation of whitewater paddlers. In an interview with Deirdre Fleming of the Portland Press Herald, Dan Baumert, president of (Mackro) admitted, “It’s a challenge to keep them (young paddlers” in the sport.”Mr. Baumert informed Fleming “It has been one of our pushes the past four to five years” to recruit a new generation of young, enthusiastic kids to keep our tradition alive. “The state’s 32,000 miles of rivers and streams beckon the next generation of whitewater paddlers.”
This is not a recent problem. Baumert has lived in Maine for 15 years. “When I came to Maine there were some guys my age paddling, but not very many young paddlers.” The organization sponsors about 30 races a year between May and October according to Fleming.
In her profile of (Mackro) Fleming writes, “Mackro, which started in 1986, serves canoe-racing enthusiasts in a state that boasts 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. It holds races as far north as the Meduxnekeag River in Houlton, Maine and as far Downeast as the Baskahegan Stream in Washington County.” However, according Baumert, “Until the past three years there were few, if any, youth at these races.”
This is an interesting dilemma because Meduxnekeag River is a significant part of Maine’s history and culture, according to the Maine Memory Network and the Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, which published a nine-volume collection of photographs with the he artwork dates from 1895.
Although has struggled Baumert remains hopeful. He to Fleming that “Recently, the canoe club has improved its odds of survival and recruited youth to whitewater paddling. Today the club has 125 members across the state with roughly 25 youth members”
Jeff Owen, an Orono High School science teacher and the former canoe club president, is largely responsible, according Baumert.
Seven years ago, Jeff Owen took the defunct outing club at his high school and restructured it, turning it into a whitewater canoe racing team. As he started gathering equipment and building interest among the student body, he realized he had a willing corps of instructors from the canoe club where he served as president at the time. Therefore, Owen started pairing his high school paddlers with experienced Mackro paddlers.