OC1 Essay Contest Entry - Aiden Cargo

The following submission was made as an entry to win a OC1 from an amazingly generous donor, who wanted to see the canoe truly enjoyed, rather than turn a profit. Entrants were asked to submit an essay answering the following:

  • Part 1: “Describe how paddling has changed your life.”
  • Part 2: “How do you plan to use this canoe, and perhaps someday pass it along?”

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Aiden Cargo, California

Whether they know it or not, everyone who partakes in or is associated with a sport has their life changed by it. My values and character wouldn’t be what they are today without paddling. The things in my life I currently value most are religion, family, and my sense of self-worth.

I used to hate sports, and I liked to think that I had some sort of disadvantage at them having asthma, leading to my hate for the idea. Without much motivation to do anything outside of my only two physical activities, my mother decided to sign me up for a paddling club by the name of Ke Kai O’Uhane and I agreed. Nervous to start, as I am with all new experiences,  I went to the beach and was greeted by the coaches who were delighted to have a new Keiki paddling. I had a tendency to value lazy, relaxing time over physical experiences and disliked the idea of paddling at first, not wanting to paddle or help clean the canoe after. My values since then have grown into better respect for my elders and figures of authority, even if they aren’t part of my blood family.

As soon as I started paddling, I was starting to take a strong interest in the sport. Although eight year old me was getting tired and was only there because of my mom, I decided to stay because I enjoyed learning about the tradition and was quickly surrounded by friends who I became close with. When I started my second year, I started in seats three and four in the canoe, which were quickly explained to me as “power seats”. Transitioning to my third year in the sport, one of my friends started paddling and they were quickly placed in the aforementioned power seats and I was placed in seat one. With this new position, I started working harder to be able to paddle in every seat. The next year I stayed in my seat and raced normally, at the end of the season, I started in long distance wavechaser races with my friend in an OC-2.

Throughout my five years of paddling with my club and various different crews, I have grown in personality; becoming more understanding to what seemed like simple rules such as the importance of respecting people that have any level of experience in any hobby or sport since I was in their position when I started. I learned this fairly recently when I was out with new paddlers, and the person in front of me was having trouble with timing. As much as I wanted to keep telling them to keep in tune with the person in front of them, one of the coaches advised them and I was able to keep paddling, although cautiously. This taught me that I should try to help new people, but respect that they are new and not as experienced as I am.
Now I am thirteen years old, learning to be a steersman and helping new paddlers in my club. With the canoe, I plan on practicing and using it to share the love of the sport I feel with others in my club, specifically more interested paddlers close to my age. My ultimate goal is to share my irreplaceable care for canoes and paddling with the other paddlers and will use this canoe to achieve it. Without paddling, I wouldn't be who I am today, and my character would be close to none.


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