About: David

David Hughes
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http://puconkayakhostel.com/
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David Hughes is the founder and director of Huge Experiences' New River Academy. David is also the Content Media Specialist for Colorado Kayak Supply. As the owner of Pucon Kayak Hostel David closely works with the high school's Chile base providing New River with the world's best kayak destination. David is currently working with universities preparing gap year programs Venture Forth Patagonia and Patagonia Gap Year.

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    Patagonia Study Abroad Students Plan Trip to Choshuenco

    Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

    The Patagonia Study Abroad semester utilizes a planning class that allows students to plan, budget and execute their own program. Previous Huge Experiences semesters staff planned and led logistics aspects which in effect often led to a group that experienced less of the culture and learning process. Below is an email from planning class instructor John Miller updating myself on their first planned trip. The weekend getaway is to one of Chile’s most famously gorgeous rivers on the Rio Fuy. The group planned to stay in the lakeside community of Choshuenco a 15 minute drive to three sections of the Rio Fuy.

    Note- The group voted to rent one vehicle and trailer for bodies and gear. They  chose to put the remaining bodies on a public bus to save budget of having to rent a second vehicle. What they didn’t plan for was a Chilean holiday throwing all schedules off.

    Commercial Rio Fuy operators are concerned about the spread of Didymo a micro algae which is present in southern Chile rivers. PSA coach Lorenzo Andrade Astorga leads disinfecting gear prior to paddling the Rio Fuy.

    David,
    Just thought I’d send you an update. After you dropped Sarah (Waddington), Eric (Bartl),
    Alexis (Jennings) and myself off at 7:45 this morning to catch bus Alexis used her
    Spanish to make sure we got on the correct bus. At exactly 8:00 right,
    on schedule, we boarded a large tour bus bound for Puerto Montt. Our ride
    was only from Pucon to Lanco and the luxury start to the trip seemed to
    bode well. We arrived at Lanco 2 hours later a little sleepy from naps
    but ready for the next leg of the journey. When we bought our tickets
    the bus station attendant had told us the bus from Lanco to Panguipulli
    left every 15 minutes. We quickly found where we were suppose to wait
    for the bus but as time passed more and more frustrated Chileans started
    crowding around waiting for the bus. Eric asked those around us if we
    were waiting at the right place for the bus to Panguipulli. It turned
    out the bus was on a limited schedule because of the holiday. The
    Chileans knew it was going to be a bad ride. When the bus arrived we all
    piled in, standing room only. As people got up to leave Sarah and
    Alexis managed to get seats but Eric and I spent most of the hour long
    bus ride standing then almost sitting in peoples laps as those in the
    back of the bus tried to get off. We all celebrated our arrival in
    Panguipulli until we found out the only bus leaving for Choshuenco left
    at 8:00 PM.

    Patagonia Study Abroad students put on the Lower Fuy. A class III section with class VI beauty.

    I called Lorenzo (Astorga) and we agreed he would swing through town and we’d try
    to fit more of us into the Durango. We bummed around Panguipulli for
    about an hour, helping Eric look for a new jacket (no luck most shops
    were closed for the holiday) and waiting until everyone else showed up.
    Sarah and I were going to wait for the bus but Lorenzo insisted we’d
    fit. Fit we did, a little tight but off we went for the 40 minute ride
    to Choshuenco. Luckily it’s a beautiful paved road so all went well.

    After a warm welcome and a quick lunch at the La Posada (the hostel here)
    Lorenzo, Jake (Greenbaum), Eric, Hunt (Jennings), Carson (Lindsay), Isaac (Holden) and I headed for the Lower
    Middle Fui. The plan was for them to paddle down to the lower put in
    while I went and picked up the rest of the group. As we unloaded the
    kayaks Christian (the owner of one of the rafting companies here) and
    another local representative stopped us and explained that they are very
    concerned about the spread of Didymo a micro algae that has already
    infected some rivers south of here. To protect the Fui they asked us to
    return to Choshuenco and have all our gear and boats sanitized. So off
    we went back to town. After an hour of disinfecting the group decided
    to do just a Lower Fui run. All had a great time on the river with
    special kudos going to Will (McEachern) for hitting several combat rolls and Mary
    Katharine (Fields) for her aggressive command of the river.

    The Rio Fuy is a two hour drive from Pucon. The upper, middle and lower Fuy offer whitewater for all skill levels.

    Tonight after dinner we had a planning session. The group decided on a
    very full day of paddling tomorrow (no surprise there). Alexis’s group
    read their paragraph writings and afterwards met with Nathan (Silsbee) to discuss
    upcoming video projects and turn in their the final version of this
    weeks projects.

    That’s all for now I send another update tomorrow.

    John (Miller)

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    Patagonia Study Abroad spending money and communication answers.

    Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

    OK. With just over one week until flights to Chile it’s getting exciting for this year’s Patagonia Study Abroad students. I’m officially on the ground in Pucon and can better answer several questions. Here goes.

    1. How’s the Chile weather? The Maipo which is suppose to be warmer because it is further north and more arid three days ago was cold and rainy. It snowed at higher elevations. And Pucon which is normally rainy at this time of year was spectacular today with sunny tee weather. Expect shorts on some days and down jacket on others. Lean toward dressing for cold and rain and the sunny days will be warm and easy.

    2. “Do I need an international cell plan? How much does it cost?” No you do not need a cell phone while in Chile. But there are several options that work for both local and international communication.

    A. First and foremost your parents can always call my (David) cell phone in the case of an emergency. This number will be sent out with the flight day plans coming soon. And you can call them easily with an Internet connection and Skype account.

    B. Buying a local cell phone and prepaid minutes. The cell phone is about $40. Then you can buy your prepaid minutes at any pharmacia (pharmacy) and some other general markets (mercados). This is an easy lesson. The local cell phone is best for calling people locally. Parents can buy a US calling card or skype and call this cell phone too.

    C. Using your current cell phone. Check with your local cell provider about their international plan. Be careful some of these are as much as $US1.50/minute. I have an iphone with ATT and my international plan is too expensive for the minutes I need in Chile.

    D. Skype- Every student should open a Skype account. If parents open a Skype account too then you can do Skype chats with video. Your child can Skype call you for about 2 cents/minute with an Internet connection.

    E. Jailbreak your cell phone. Huh? It’s a techie term for decoding your national cell phone code. I’ve never done it but have had programmer students decode. It’s all online. If the code is undone then it can be reset to Chilean code. Then an iphone can serve as an Internet hotspot too.

    3. “What about Internet?”

    A. Cafes throughout Chile have wifi. So for the price of a coffee, chai tea or hot chocolate you can do your Internet.

    B. Buying a modem card about the size of a memory stick. These plug into your USB port and get reception anywhere cell phones work. This is what students who want Internet at our base use. They are slower than normal Internet so we will need to make Pucon trips for your video upload/downloading. Prepaid minutes are bought at the pharmacia. A month plan costs $US60. The card itself is around $US30.

    4. “How much spending money do you need?” This varies from family to family. Once in the program your food, lodging and transportation is covered. Activities and spending money will vary. Past activities have been side trips, volcano hikes, going to the hotsprings, ice cream, disco night, shopping… We suggest planning with your family a weekly spending budget. This will help limit your candy and junk spending.

    5. “Should I bring cash, check card or what?”

    Check Cards- We suggest coming to Chile with a check card. You will need to call your bank and let them know you will be in Chile and the dates. The check card is easy to cancel if stolen or lost and you can control online the amounts to be transferred into it. ATMS are everywhere and easy to use with English options. Although, many of them cost upto $US8 + your banks international banking fees. So, we suggest using the ATM as few times as possible by taking out upper limits ($US400 max). That means lessons in how to protect large amounts of cash.

    No Travelers Checks- Sorry they are inconvenient and come with a double currency exchange tax. You get hit a percentage of currency exchange US, Canada or UK currency to Chile Peso (CLP). Plus, “Casa de Cambios” (house of change) charge the highest rates for exchange and are the only place other than banks that exchange T Checks. Banks in Chile have huge waiting lines. I’ve seen a guy pass out while waiting in my Chilean bank line.

    Cash- We suggest a carrying a little spending money and easy to transfer cash with a max of $US400 (same as ATM max).

    6. “How do my parents call Chile?” There are two economical ways and one really expensive one.

    A.  Skype, Skype, Skype… Goto Skype.com and sign up for an account. It’s like signing up for an email count except you have to pay a little money. Just trust me and put $US10 on it. $US10 lasts forever. Once you do that then you can Skype to Skype or video chat anytime you have Internet. You’ll be able to call Chile cell phones like mine for 2 cents/minute.

    B. Buying an international calling card. Nobel.com is a bucket shop for calling cards. You pick your minute rate with ratings of performance. Sometimes these work better for quality than Skype (at least on the cell phone part).

    C.  Dialing from your home phone provider= super expensive. No reason to do this with today’s communications.

    Prepared by David Hughes 10/10/12

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    Safety: A father’s concerns as his daughter persists to apply to gap year.

    Thursday, May 31st, 2012

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Part I, “A father’s concerns as his daughter persists to apply to gap year.”

    Related read… Meet your gap year instructor Tino Specht.

    Related read… What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year.

    This article is the second half to the question recently posed by a parent. Below is the response.

    Is Chile safe?  You might be surprised to know that I’ve been called conservative when it comes to the school’s destinations. Years ago I chose Chile as our top destination based on cultural experiences, quality whitewater on safe rivers that need to challenge athletes, educational value and a safe environment.

    Gappers stage a video and photo media shoot at the Rio Nevado slide. Now that's a cool class experience.

     A Google search showed:  World Health Care Ranking- Chile is #33.  USA is #37

    This should prompt the question, “What happens when someone has an accident?” Few incidents happen but here are the most common:  #1- 48 hour bug/upset stomach; #2- Hurt body- Two years ago Zoe chipped her tooth and Nick hurt his back.

    A.     Immediately contact parents. Usually this call happens on the way to doctor or at ER. What the parent says goes. The level of communication is vital and relieving to parents as we continue to follow-up.

    B.     Prescriptions are simple and reliable. Like the USA you go to a pharmacy after the doctor or ER visit. In Pucon we have our own physician.

    ER Visit is about $US35 and prescriptions too are much cheaper than US.

    C.     What about insurance? Prior to your trip we suggest a couple of international travel insurance plans that run about $200. Some families have insurance plans that cover family overseas. Check your provider. The bonus to an international travel insurance is that they also cover lost, damaged or stolen items.

    Is it safe for your daughter regarding theft or violence?

    A.     We have not encountered a violent situation. Chile boasts South America’s strongest economy and we avoid large cities where crimes are more likely to occur. Our river settings are beautiful and peaceful. Pucon has committed to being the cleanest city in South America. My Pucon hostel has free trash service and recycling.

    Safety protocol is practiced on a daily basis. You will be prepared to lead trips.

    B.     Theft- this is a real concern in South America and an area where the staff and students seem to have a constant battle. Our students come from wealthy families and carry large ticket items like expensive cameras, laptops, and lots of bright kayak gear. Yes. Students have been robbed in Chile. But they also got robbed at Camp Wayfarer in NC’s Blueridge Mountains. The question becomes, “how do we best protect ourselves?”

    Addressing the Issue, “How to be responsible for your belongings.”  

    ***Note that every student that has followed the school’s precautionary steps has returned home with all of their belongings.

    Step 1- Teach the student/family about insurance ranging from protection check points to costs.

    Step 2- Know which personal security devices you need.  We will issue a pack list that includes some basic security devices. A bike cable with combo lock has yet to be broken for kayak gear. Similar locking devices for cameras and laptops too have never been broken into.

    Step 3- Think like a petty thief. We enact a theft on ourselves. Who would get robbed first? What would thieves look for, who would be the easiest target.

    Battle between staff and students is that often our students leave doors unlocked with thousands of dollars of equipment lying around. The constant reminder plus program rules have a profound impact on your child’s accountability for personal items.

    Step 4- Protecting your belongings- Now that the student knows what thieves are looking for, they have the security devices to protect their gear, and the responsibility is on them to keep gear under lock and key.  As I said early we’ve never had a theft of gear under lock and key.

    Safety on the River-

    The top two things an administrator can do to create a safe environment is A. Hire conservative safety oriented instructors, and B. Choose safe destinations that the instructors know.

    A.     Employ Safe Experienced Instructors- Tino Specht and Lorenzo Astorga have been criticized as too safety oriented by students. The parents love their firm safety stance. As an admin I’ll take safety over a loose canon any day.

    B.     Choose safe rivers and know them. 

    Our students are great athletes and accelerate faster than their experience allows. I’ve seen too many families not choose to send their child to a safe program. In effect their river knowledge comes from inexperienced 20 year olds. Too many 20 year-old young buck boys are seriously breaking themselves by running with a crowd of 20 something’s on the river. They are at an age I refer to as the “Superman” or “Invincible” stage. There is also the added element of trying to prove themselves.

    Why is paddling with a young group (without leadership) dangerous?  When paddling with a group of 20 something’s the nature becomes outdo each other. Where is the leadership? Who will step-up to say, “Let’s walk this rapid” and instill wise decision-making?

    Their choices of rivers alone becomes one to seek bigger and more dangerous. Gap year seeks exciting, safe, and challenging rivers and educational options. Yes. Students will get to run cascades but we’ll choose the safe ones with deep pools, great photo opps and are challenging… and the kids will be super happy.

    To learn more about Patagonia Gap Year email NewRiverGap@gmail.com

    or call 304-640-1001.

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    A father’s concerns as his daughter persists to apply to gap year.

    Thursday, May 10th, 2012

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Related read… Meet your gap year instructor Tino Specht.

    Related read… What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year.

    Gappers build a first aid kit at their Pucon Chile base.

    Last week I had a teleconference with a father after his daughter enamored by kayaking had persistently asked to apply to New River’s Patagonia Gap Year. Eventually he agreed to speak with me but had concerns that could mainly fall into two categories. He left our conversation feeling worse about sending his daughter. And I knew I had poorly articulated and needed to further address his points.

    A father’s two concerns related to Patagonia Gap Year were:

    • Concern 1, Safety- the father was mostly concerned with Chile as a nation’s safety versus safety on the river. The safety blog (coming next week) addresses multiple levels of safety and how PGY will prep students for life accountability and wise decision making.
    • Concern 2, “How can taking a year off motivate my child to succeed in university and career?” (when all she wants to do is kayak?)

    The father’s points are of such importance that I’m dedicating two blogs to the separate answers. I would like to thank him for the reminder, the opportunity to improve communication, and the topic of PGY’s next two e-news letters.

    For Students- If you are considering applying to PGY then you should forward this email to your parents. Or get your parents on the enews list. They have questions and before they will consider allowing you to apply they need those questions answered.

    For Parents- Consider reading the entire response. You may be surprised by the answer.

    Excerpts below are taken direct from email correspondence:

    (Father’s name of potential applying PGY student),

    I got away from your response as I departed for a trip. I’ve thought about and processed our conversation and will best provide answers to your concerns. From our conversation the points can be categorized into two areas:

    A.  Safety concerns

    And, B.  “How can taking a year off motivate (student name) to succeed in university and career?”

    (Safety Response Coming Soon)

    Second Issue:  “How can taking a year off motivate (student’s name) to succeed in university?”

    (Father’s name) you have excellent points. First I want to note the value of your parental and family educational influence and work ethic. Yes. Yes. Yes. These come into play more than you might realize at the moment. The family values are instilled but at this development stage the adolescent often has trouble accepting them based on some mental blocks.

    Some College Stats

    Here are a few statistics and ideas that may help.  The average drop out rate for freshman nationwide is 40%.  For some schools it’s even higher.  The odds of finishing a degree are even smaller.  The reasons so many freshman drop out are various but most involve being emotionally unprepared for college such as an inability to cope with the freedom of college – not going to classes, being distracted by parties and other social activities, loneliness.  Also many freshman don’t have any idea what they want to do with their life and instead of using college to explore they get the mistaken idea that they have to decide on a major and see it through.  When they realize they’re not interested in their chosen subject the other temptations on their time cause them to fail.  This failure then convinces them that college is not for them and it takes years before they go back if they ever do.

    Photo journalism students compose shots in Pichilemu, Chile. This is the cyber generation and media skills offer a competitive edge.

    What the gap year does is take the pressure off the college decision.  It allows kids to mature emotionally in a controlled environment while they pursue their own interests in this case kayaking.  For example by allowing the kids to be part of the planning and executing of their own kayak trips they learn to manage their time, their finances and their energy, they learn to balance the fun of kayak trips with a sampling of academic studies such as Spanish and Photography/video. Instead of the pressure of having to make good grades in 15 plus hours of college courses, many of which they are not even interested in, the gap year allows an exploration of how best to balance their personal interests with academic demands.

    Traveling in a foreign country broadens perspectives and the experience of traveling, meeting new people, making new friends while doing what they love (kayaking) gives students the social skills they will need to form the strong friendships in college that have proven to be one of the best predictors of success in college.  College for freshman is a foreign culture but not as foreign as traveling in a different country with a different language.  The gap year abroad teaches students how to successfully navigate a foreign culture so when they go back to the U.S. College seems tame and easily manageable.

    Is the grass greener on the other side? Gap year students watch and rescue goats being herded to the highland grasses of the Achibueno Valley.

    The grass always looks greener on the other side.  This is especially true for kayakers.  The romance of traveling abroad to kayak, running spectacular rivers, pursuing ones own interests sounds like paradise after the restrictive routines of High School but the reality of traveling abroad and kayaking are harsh and challenging.  Lots of things go wrong.  Vehicles break down.  Rivers are too high or too low to run.  A beautiful day turns cold and rainy.  Ones fellow kayakers have their own personality quirks that grate on ones nerves. Even trying to find a bathroom can become a major challenge.  Despite it being everything the kayakers dreamed of there’s always the moment when loneliness and homesickness strike and home seems like the most wonderful place in the world.  After a year of traveling abroad the fantasy of the kayak paradise is replaced by the realization that we make our own happiness from struggles and disappointments, successes and failures, incredible highs and moments of loneliness that make up life no matter where we are.

    Our education system has it backwards.  We force young people into college, force them to choose a course of study and work incredibly hard, make sacrifices all in the pursuit of a fantasy tomorrow.  College becomes simply a means to an end and if a student isn’t already committed to that end it’s almost impossible to see the point of so much work.  The gap year by allowing college students to first pursue their most passionate interest, their fantasy life, gives them the time, space and experiences to understand how much work and sacrifice it takes to make ones own goals and aspirations a reality. The prospect of college takes on an entirely different flavor. Instead of a continuation of the prison that was high school, college becomes the freely chosen means of creating and pursuing a meaningful life.

    I’ve personally watched the transformation of students not interested in College time after time. Parents later write me excitedly announcing their child is enrolling on their own to a university or the student requests a letter of recommendation. It takes time. It takes a team effort. I am confident in the product we are offering you. The final stages of adolescent development are more vital than most realize.

    Feel free to write your concerns.

    David Hughes

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Related read… Meet your gap year instructor Tino Specht.

    Related read… What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year.

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    Meet Your Gap Year Instructor Tino Specht

    Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Read… What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year.

    Meet Your Gap Year Instructor Tino Specht

    If you could hire the perfect leader for an adventure program what would you ask in the interview process?  How would you filter that leader’s skills from other applicants who naturally show their best during an interview?

    Tino Specht and his million dollar smile.

    The answer to the above questions is a bit deceiving. You see Tino Specht was both a student and an intern at New River Academy. He’s been prepped, conditioned, and polished into the perfect role model/leader/teacher/coach all rolled into one guy.  That’s kind of a joke… Tino is a natural leader. But yes his program experience throughout Chile makes him even more of an ideal instructor. Plus he has four years teaching experience. Tino’s ever present passion for mastering video media combined with an emphasis on how to express compelling stories made him a naturally gifted instructor.

    How does giving and volunteering lead students to winning jobs?

    As a media production company owner Tino turns down more media work than he accepts. How did he rise to the top in such a competitive field? Tino mastered the school’s philosophy of networking and began volunteering video media work for programs like Zoar, Ottawa Kayak School, and New River Academy. Soon enough those programs were paying Tino for video projects and even going out of their way to help him secure coveted jobs with other companies via their endorsement network. Volunteer and quality work distinguished Tino from other bidding media production companies. In effect his giving of product created a network that few young minds realize the benefits.

    Below Video Tino Scripts a Commercial Ad for Pucon Kayak Hostel

    How will you script your story? What music, images, interviews and words will convey your message?

    A Compelling Story is a Competitive Edge

    Click for Tino Specht Vimeo Page

    Have you ever heard a remarkable storyteller? You sit on the edge of your seat listening to what happens next. The plot goes up and down as you get excited and later relieved. Story telling is an art and storytellers have one thing in common. They understand how to evoke emotions and to get the listener, reader, or viewer to become involved. Progressively, Tino’s stories played out through images and scripted dialogue become more powerful. Tino has earned the reputation for quality video media work and the job offers keep coming.

    Coach Tino Specht at the top of the "Cali-slide" on Pucon's Rio Nevado.

    “Tino if I had it to do over again I’d be a doctor. You see doctors are one of the few professions where you can take your skill with you anywhere and make a great living. I’m tied to my properties…”Joe Kowalski, Owner Wilderness Tours and Ottawa Kayak School

    Intelligent company owners want someone who can convey their story in a way that makes people want to experience their product. Tino took Joe Kowalski’s above quote to heart, he learnt and works toward mastering media production as his life craft. Now, Tino passionately shares his knowledge with gap year students.

    Learning Media Productions… You’re the Social Media Generation

    Professional video production is not easy. Beginners will randomly shoot shots and slap music to it, that’s the easiest level. The professional will meet with their client uncovering a story to convey, an intriguing way to present a product asking what words and interviews should apply.  As a professional you build this story via your images and the creative art project is often less than one minute.

    You are the cyber generation. Video and photo media journalism are skills that will give you a career advantage.

    Jumping to Safety?

    It’s hard to write about Tino and not mention his influence on safety. Beginning with the first day Tino teaches safety first in effect setting the semester standard. Tino has rules like, “Show up to a rapid without your rope and you do 25 pushups.” Or “No shoes. No paddling.” The gap year student age is an age where students are in prime athletic and learning form. Meaning they can learn skills faster than their experience level. This is where an experienced safety instructor helps you understand decision-making and how to protect yourself.

    What is Tino’s role within Patagonia Gap Year?

    • Media Journalism Instructor:  Photo and Video
    • Head Coach
    • Logistics and Leadership Instructor
    • Tino also teaches to those interested a wilderness survival and herbalogy course.

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Read… What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year.

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    What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year?

    Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    What ages can apply to Patagonia Gap Year?

    Tamara Semehen and Clay Whitaker take a creative writing course during the Patagonia Gap Year spring semester.

    The answer falls into one of three categories.

    1. Students who recently graduated high school. Often these students have heavy pressures to know their future career, they might be burnt out on education, or just not have the maturity to foresee success university.
    2. Students who have taken a year or two of university. Underclass univ students may not enjoy their current university, still do not know their major, need a major change, or again just need a break and prep for jobs.
    3. Students graduating university.  These students have worked the hardest and want a life-break prior to entering their career. PGY place this group into higher leadership roles.

    What are universities not teaching students?

    The real world can be challenging. Will you be ready to meet financial demands knowing how to hold a budget. What communication skills have you learnt? Are you responsible enough to work independently? And do you realize the life advantages of learning social media skills with our video and photo journalism courses.

    Gappers staged a video and photo media shoot at the Rio Nevado slide. Now that's a cool class experience.

    “How do I Apply to Patagonia Gap Year?

    Step 1- Download and submit the Phase I Application. 

    Step 2- If you receive an acceptance letter then Congratulations! You’re on your way to a great experience.

    Step 3- Download and submit the Phase II Application with deposit to officially enroll.

    For high school grads and university students choose New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

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    Gap Year Staff Profile: Lorenzo Astorga “Fairy Tale Family”

    Thursday, April 12th, 2012

    For high school grads and university students is New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

    Gap Year Staff Profile: Lorenzo Astorga

    Video below was directed by gap year video instructor and coach Tino Specht.  Tino creates the profile of Lorenzo Andrade Astorga in a way that tells the family story of what the Rio Maipo means to so many.

    Lorenzo Andrade Astorga plays his kenna. It's become New River tradition to employ someone from the culturally rich Astorga family to teach Spanish and share their cultural heritage.

    The Patagonia Gap Year employment goal is to hire outstanding leaders that are likable and respected by students, are safe, can lead, and to teach on a high-academic level.

    Let’s meet the Astorga-Moreno Family

    Once upon a time legend has it that the great, great, (great to the quadratic) grandfather was a successful minor of silver in the Maipo Valley buying over 10,000 acres of mountain land.  The Astorgas like many Chilean families were grand in size but while other families sold their lands the Astorgas chose a different path.  The Astorga family values instead established protection systems to keep their family heritage.  Today, that land has been repositioned as Chile’s largest and oldest eco-tourism company, Cascadas de las Animas.

    Astorgas and Government Conflict

    • 1970’s Agusto Pinochet Threat- The Astorgas fled their homeland as the Pinochet administration tortured, killed and threatened lives of many prosperous non-administration supporters.  The family would return to their land some 10 years later.  Gappers will visit a Pinochet concentration camp and interview the Astorga family about this part of Chilean history.
    • 1980’s Government Oil Pipe from Argentina- This time the government planned a pipeline near to the Maipo Valley road traveling east over the Andes.  The Astorga land would have to be crossed.  During local protests Chilean police became physically aggressive and military made advances on the Astorga family land.  The Astorgas won public support (as the underdog threatened by government) and preserved their land.
    • Today, a Rio Maipo hydropower plan would divert the river’s flow into a penstock tube.  We hope the family winning tradition continues.

    Fairy Tale Walk to Lorenzo’s Home

    The family business, Cascadas de las Animas, is a modern day fairy tale. A large family sticking together to protect their heritage creates South America's largest eco-tourism company.

    After driving east from Santiago through the arid Andes region into the Maipo Valley you begin to notice unique architecture within restaurants, houses, and hotels.  The Gaudi style structures would fit perfectly into a Star Wars Ewok or Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Village.  Giant wooden columns, polished curves no corners to be found, stained glass, geodesic domes, outdoor couch-style beds, master forged blacksmith work, waterfalls and treetop canopy tours are routine structures that focus on detail.  It’s the artistic work of Lorenzo’s father Sergio Andrade Huber, aka Taller Pangal.

     

    A locked bridge swings over the class IV rapids of the Rio Maipo lying at the trough of hundreds of feet of canyon walls.  Cross the bridge, pass the bird preservation hawk cage, pass the rehabilitated mountain lion, family llama, walk under the grape vines and begin passing the homes of aunts and uncles.  This is Astorga landia.  Pass the horse stables and you’ll find yourself walking a dusty trail uphill with a mountain stream irrigation trench.  After hiking 1/3 mile uphill where there is no road for vehicle you arrive to the home of Lorenzo Andrade Astorga.

    The home is built longitudinally on a mountain terrace surrounding two giant boulders.  When people ask how they got everything up the hill they joke, “The (10’ high) boulder was the hardest to carry…”  The view up and down the valley is as spectacular as the architecture of this home masterpiece.  Years ago I dreamt of importing Sergio’s art to the US.  I was lucky enough to be able to contract him to build part of the Pucon Kayak Hostel.

    Astorga Family Tradition

    Lorenzo slides Pucon's whitewater favorite on Rio Nevado. This could be you this October.

    Lorenzo’s Mother nicknamed Gordita leads multi-day horseback expeditions into Argentina.  Thin and fit in her 50’s she is most often seen wearing a leather vest and riding chaps perfectly polished by the rough Andes elements.  A worn cap with feather and copper belt buckle.  She’s the epitome of Chilean badass and constantly instills in her children the value of protecting the land.  Each family member plays an active role within the family business in some way working and earning their livelihood within a company known for creating jobs.

    Lorenzo is the fourth of five Astorgas contracted by New River Academy.  Brother Sebastian, the MBA, first was a chofer and later hired to teach Spanish in New Zealand.  Brother Roberto, the attorney, has completed logistics and legal contracts.  Father Sergio was employed to construct the school’s trailer and vehicle racks.  And cousin Carla, the documentary producer, is our current Spanish and video teacher.

    Meet Lorenzo Andrade Astorga

    So, you can see that Lorenzo has a rich cultural background and it is for this reason he was originally employed by New River Academy’s Patagonia Gap Year.  Lorenzo studied education and eco-tourism and applies his knowledge to teaching gap year students Spanish, logistics and leadership skills, and safety on the river.  I first noted Lorenzo’s exceptional teaching style when he organized a gapper class puppet production of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

    Lorenzo has a leather belt holster to hold his kenna, unique flute, and he is adorned with scarf and typical Astorga gypsy pants and shirt.  When he’s not guiding a trip he’s practicing race lines on the Yesso oro Upper Maipo.  But not just in his kayak.  The Astorga cousins were the fifth fastest rafting team in the Raft World Championships, even beating the USA.  Too bad they can’t beat the USA in soccer.

    Practicing rafting and kayak lines seems to keep the adrenalin packed men charging in between work contracts.

    What does this mean to applying gap year students?  It means your going to have the kayaking trip and cultural experience of your life.

    For high school grads and university students is New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

    Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

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    Chile Rivers Series- Upper Fuy reported by Patagonia Gap Year

    Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

    For high school grads and university students.  It’s easy to APPLY to Patagonia Gap Year. 

    Fall Semester for Advanced and Intermediate Kayakers: October 15 to December 17

    Spring Semester for Beginner and Intermediate Kayakers:  February 5 to April 9

    Feature River in this Edition:  Upper Rio Fuy, IV

    Skills Required:  Must be a solid class IV boater ready to progress to class V and waterfall running.

    Not a Class IV Kayaker… Consider our Beginner Intermediate Spring Semester.

    rio fuy Leonas cascadas

    Emily Meredith and Megan Harpam take photos at Rio Fuy's Las Leonas aka the Lions cascades.

    As the logistics coordinator of New River Academy trips and now proud owner of Pucon Kayak Hostel exploring the Andes drainages for 14 years has been… well, perspective enhancing and life directional.  Annually, seeking another tour gem and later sharing the beauty offers great pleasure. Whether it is Doña Tato’s riverside camp in Patagonia’s Rio Nuble, watching huaso’s (Chilean cowboys) herd flocks of goats to the highlands in the Achibueno Valley, competing at the Rio Nuble Fest, networking a new homestay, or paddling with the gap year students on Pucon’s Upper Nevado these tried and tested logistics are now available to you as part of Patagonia Gap Year’s itinerary.

    Upper Rio Fuy Location:  Two-hours southeast of Pucon, Chile.

    Imagine paddling across crystal water peering down to the moss and logs, turn a bend to the white view of a towering glacier.  Magically, the water is warm, clear and blue.  The feeling is surreal as you approach the first warmup class III rapids on this 4 KM stretch of continuous clean cascades.  This is a Chilean must, welcome to the Rio Fuy.  The Upper Fuy much like a bath tub over-flows out of solar heated Lago Neltume.  Lago Neltume is a long stretch of lake that has a ferry to the Argentina border.  This is the heart of Chile’s Rios District.

    Las Leonas is a stacked series of three cascades. The clear blue water + gradient makes the Rio Fuy a must destination.

    Why is the Upper Fuy so popular?  The 4 KM section offers over 20 clean cascades with the largest being at Las Leonas, aka the Lions.  Photographers can stack their shots and catch a 23’, a 12’ and a 6’ cascade all in the same shot.  While, the run is not for beginners it can be a safe and trip highlight for class IV boaters with experienced guide.  Expert experienced creekers love the run too as provides the vid and photo shots and enough challenging lines.  The drops are well-defined with balanced boof corners to soft landings in pools.

    3 Classic Rio Fuy Sections:

    Upper Fuy, IV:  This is the favorite stretch by kayakers seeking new cascades.  It’s a 4KM non-stop stretch of easy to navigate clean drops with road access.

    Middle Fuy, V: The crux of the Middle Fuy is a must run 50-footer.  As far as big drops go it’s as easy of a 50-footer as you can find.  DO NOT get into this canyon unless water is low and everything else is dry.

    Lower Fuy, III:  The lower is a commercial rafting section spectacular in beauty.  At higher flows theirs a wave for play-boaters.  Still a must on any New River trip based on beauty alone.

    Pro Note-  Aniol Seriolsoles first descented 100’ La Puma in spring of 2012 located within Parque Huilo Huilo on the class V Middle Fuy section. 

    Rio Fuy Trip Highlights and Suggestions:

    • Parque Huilo Huilo has some of the best swimming lagunas on the planet. This is Chile at it's best.

      Puerto Neltume- is at the put-in and worth driving the extra 100 m to checkout the ferry port to the Argentina border.

    • Hotel Baobab or the Peterman Brewery-  You’ll be nothing less than shocked when you see these structures that would fit into the Starwars Ewok village.  Plan time to enjoy a beer after your run.  Hike to the 8th floor roof for 360 degree view.
    • Jumpers at Las Leonas can get sweet Go Pro shots as the kayakers fly next to them.
    • Parque Huilo Huilo, where Serriolsolses first descented La Puma, has some of the most spectacular swimming lagunas on the planet. Just above the part are several runnable drops.

    Patagonia Gap Year Itinerary- Read below to follow an exceptional exploration itinerary of Chile.

    October 18 to November 21, Pucon Kayak Hostel base: Stay at the world’s best kayak destination designed for kayakers.

    Some Pucon Whitwater Rivers:  Rio Nevado, Rio Palguin, Rio Fuy, Rio San Pedro, Rio Puesco, Rio Trancura, Coilaco Park and Huck, Turbio Park and Huck, Ojos del Caburgua Park and Huck, Rio Maichin.

    November 22 to 25, Rio Nuble Fest- Over 50 miles of free-flowing beauty.

    NOC’s Jon Clarke began the Rio Nuble Fest to helo protect over 50 miles of free-flowing river from hydropower threats.  International kayakers join the San Fabian township in promoting eco-tourism and saving the Rio Nuble.   Thank you Jon Clarke.

    November 26 to December 6, Siete Tazas National Park, 10 Days at Seven Teacups National Park

    Rio Claro has over 100 clean cascades and is the most photogenic cascade run on the planet. You'll have ten days to master your media and creek skills here.

    The Rio Claro drainage is the most photogenic cascade river in the world with over 100 clean waterfalls.  For over 3 million years the volcanic basalt desert earth crack has been milled, carved and polished to kayaker perfection.  This is waterfall heaven and will be a highlight for anyone on this trip.  You’ll spend ten days off the grid capturing the best shots of your life.

    December 7 to 12, Gappers Independent Logistics Trip

    How cool is the ideal of planning and executing your own trip.  Not just winging it but doing your research and making it happen.  During this week gappers will be prepped to research, plan and negotiate a 6-day trip.  Students are trained with the same negotiation skills New River admin have been trained for years.  You’ll have a challenging budget you’ll have to meet.  Researching and knowing price points for the Big 3 Logistics:  transportation, lodging and food will be learnt and practiced.

    December 13 to December 20, Maipo Valley

    Here gappers will experience the Upper and Lower Rio Maipo plus it’s Upper tributary Rio Yesso.  This area is full of beauty and culture as you’ll learn as you get to know your Astorga-Moreno Family hosts.

    Want to learn more about Patagonia Gap Year?  Email- NewRiverGap@gmail.com and we’ll warmly answer your questions.

    For high school grads and university students.  It’s easy to APPLY to Patagonia Gap Year. 

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    World’s Best Kayak Media Course via Gap Year

    Monday, March 26th, 2012

    It’s easy to APPLY to Patagonia Gap Year.  Dates:  October 18 to December 20

    NBC Sports publishes New River students Cael Jones and Matt Hobbs’ “Facing East.”  A documentary of the future of China’s rivers.

    By now it’s apparent that cyber blogging media is not just for geeks anymore.  Competitive corporations, schools, startup businesses, and even individuals seeking funding and sponsorship are mastering media blog journalism skills to give them the competitive edge.  If you are a kayaker between the ages of 18 to 20 then you’ve likely considered learning advanced photo or video skills.   But when do you have the time?

    "The ability to tell stories with your media is a viable profitable product that will always provide avenues for work positions." Above a student takes a tut tut taxi.

    America Outdoors, the world’s largest resource for whitewater rafting and kayak schools alike, is an annual gathering of leading outdoor industry trends.  Imagine a room full of eco-tourism leaders and owners taking notes.  Many of the trends focus around how to express compelling stories about life experiences via media production.  “If you have the skills to express the story of the experience then you have a practical profitable product to offer.”

    “You have to get your employees to blog…” one speaker presents.  But getting employees or guests to blog is one of the most difficult challenges for any employer.  If this is true then why is New River Academy outperforming multi-million dollar corporations via student blogging?

    Five Reasons Patagonia Gappers are Motivated to Learn Media

    #1- PGY illustrates the personal gain of blog journalism- Once students brainstorm the list of personal benefits and skills they’ll acquire they become motivated to put their skills to use.  Knowledge of future gain, mastering a new skill, and instructor infrastructure provides great incentive.

    #2- PGY creates competitive challenges with rewards-  By nature students are competitive.  There are a variety of tracking tools that every “.com” should study and attack.  Creative competitions help students learn “Search Engine Optimization” goals that businesses seek.

    #3- Award Recognitions- Every photographer and videographer wants to get that once in a lifetime shot.  A Best Shot is a proud moment and something our students should know how to optimize publicly.

    Gappers have the best photo day and ride of their lives at Chile's Seven Teacups National Park. There are over 70 clean cascades waiting for you.

    #4- Make Shoots Fun-  Nomadic student kayakers love to kayak and explore new cultures.  Students script and shoot on location at places like Pucon’s Rio Nevado slide or the famous Seven Teacups.   How cool would it be to shoot at the world’s most photogenic cascade?

    #5- Parents Love It-  “…if you make Chris’s photo assignments due online my wife will make sure he posts them or he won’t get to go.” – John Miller shares about his son taking photo media.  Parents enjoy seeing their child in photos and videos as much as they appreciate the skills they have invested in for their future.

    Where have student’s photos and media been published?

    • 2008 Snapdragon makes student Tino Specht the spray skirt photo.  Shot taken by student Sam Fulbright for photo class on Rio Futaleafu.
    • 2009 Emery Tillman is published by Werner Paddles.  Shot taken during photo class on Rio Fuy.
    • 2010 Taylor Cote becomes the full spread poster girl for Wavesport.  Shot taken by Jason Terry for photo class at Seven Teacups.
    • 2011 Video Media Teacher/former student Tino Specht is hired by Red Bull Mexico.
    • 2008 Sam Fulbright incorporates Pilot Collective Media.  A startup that has launched his business into cutting edge media production services.
    • 2007 Cael Jones and Matt Hobbs produce “Facing East.”  A documentary of the school’s quarter in China currently featured on NBC Sports.

    Related articles:

    It’s easy to APPLY to Patagonia Gap Year.  Dates:  October 18 to December 20

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    Five Reasons to Choose Patagonia Gap Year to Prep for University

    Monday, March 19th, 2012

    Reason #1 students choose Patagonia Gap Year is kayaking. Yet, parents are more interested in safety, courses, and prepping for a future career.

    Do you want to learn more about Patagonia Gap Year?

    Email NewRiverGap@gmail.com

    or surf to Patagonia Gap Year.

    OK…  High school grads and university students agree they’d love to participate in a dream tour of Chile.  Although, parents expecting their child to attend university are reluctant.  Turns out the Patagonia Gap Year is the perfect solution for parent and child negotiations.  Learn how you’ll take courses that your parents agree is worth the investment.

     

     

    Are you ready for university? What are the benefits of taking a year off?

     

     

     

     

     

    #5            Recharge Your Academic Career-

    It’s true many students are simply burnt out on intense academics.   PGY is designed to rebuild and refocus students for academic success.  And besides do you really think your parents will let you tour Chile without showing them how you’ll be safe and productive?

    Courses that Prep you for Life:

    • Video or Photo Media Journalism- You’ll document your experience and learn how blogging skills can you give you an inside advantage in today’s career market.
    • Spanish Immersion-  Yes. It’s a structured course.  But what cooler way to learn Spanish than to explore the culture, have a developed curriculum, take salsa dance lessons, and have the option to earn credits.
    • Leadership and Logistics Management-  This course will be part of your daily kayak adventure.  You’ll plan, budget and execute different legs of your trip.  Real-life negotiations with the challenges of a budget give real experience.
    • Independent Study-  You’ll take an independent study course of your choice.  Students choose something they’ve always wanted to learn:  magic, guitar, a correspondence course for credit, wilderness survival…

    #4            Pressure of Not Knowing Your Major-

    Gappers love their photo and video journalism courses. Parents enjoy reading their blogs.

    Your parents have created a university fund for you and you still don’t think your ready or know what you want to do.  Of course you want to be successful.  Can exploring the world give you a real-life perspective of what to expect and help you choose your major?

    #3              “Your not mature enough to attend university.”

    If someone told you this or you think it yourself then a gap year needs to be explored.  Many universities have an over 50% rate of freshman class dropout.  Do you know how to cook, clean, manage a budget, work a job, and show up to classes without mom waking and pushing you out the door?  Agreed.  Gap year will place you in real budget and management situations teaching you those life skills.

    #2            Prep for Paying Jobs in the Outdoor Industry.

    Gappers are given a budget to build a river first aid kit. Every outdoors employer needs to see safety credentials.

    By the time you leave the Patagonia Gap Year you’ll be able to plan, market, lead and execute your own outdoor program.  Skills like video and photo media journalism are a must… you’ll have an skills advantage.

    #1              You LOVE Kayaking!

    It’s Chile, the world’s best kayaker’s destination.  You’ve always wanted to travel, run waterfalls and make money on your own.  But your parents are worried and prefer you  safe and working toward a career.  It’s time to negotiate.  We’ll prep you for work, marketing, budget and safety running rivers.

     

    Parent Safety Misconception:  Kayaking is not safe.  Think for one second what your child will be doing weekends at university.  Now, consider the idea of your child being a part of a team guided by mature leaders.  Safety protocol an team work become a daily routine.  

    Do you want to learn more about Patagonia Gap Year?

    Email NewRiverGap@gmail.com or surf to Patagonia Gap Year.

    Apply prior to April 1 and receive a $1,000 Discount!  Email to learn how.

    How do you Apply to Patagonia Gap Year?

    • Step 1-  Download an submit the Phase I Application.  Here you’ll describe your personal goals and expectations.
    • Step 2-  New River will check your references, goals and work toward sending your “Acceptance Letter.”
    • Step 3-  Once accepted you’ll send your Phase II Application to officially secure your space.

    “And that has made all the difference.”

     

     

     

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New River Academy
Rt. 2 Box 245
Fayetteville, WV 25484
(304)- 574-0403
Fax: (304) 513-2247
New River Academy

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