Dad, what are some of your favorite things you’ve done with your children?
Rafting the Deschutes
Central Oregon is a high desert, greened by rivers beginning on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. The Deschutes River runs northward from South of Bend to the Columbia River. Below the dams, at Warm Springs, the Deschutes runs free, delighting fishermen and boaters.
I had discovered the bliss of river boating in the mid-1970s when I joined a group for teen boys and dads led by Gary LaRue and Homer Ames at the Beaverton Christian Church. This program was noteworthy because boys and their dads were invited to build eight-foot wooden prams from kits sourced from a river rat who had started a similar program in Idaho. Chad wasn’t old enough and Corina wasn’t eligible because of her gender. I enjoyed the river boating so much that I wanted to share the activity with my children.
After I left our family home in 1985, I fell in with some people who had taken an interest in counseling and personal growth. My closest friends (Sherry Downs, George Celia and Peggy O’Brien) were in the Quest Fellowship, started in the 1970s by Dale Jamgaard of Lutheran Family Services. Some of us were enthusiastic about river rafting and we began planning a Deschutes River trip each year. We depended on Mark Snead, who owned a rental company in Beaverton. Snead Rentals had some repurposed surplus life rafts with homemade wooden frames for river boating. Mark was indeed our leader, though some of us might have different ideas about how to raft the river.
On at least a couple of our large group rafting trips, I planned ahead for Chad and Corina to fit these into their summer schedules. Large group trips were complicated, with plenty of room for interpersonal conflict and disagreements about what to do and how to do it. Nevertheless, I remember them for the warm interaction among friends and the opportunity to introduce my offspring to my new friends.
Had I gotten the fly fishing bug, I could have tried to indoctrinate my offspring into that splendid sport. But it was enough to take a hike through the rimrock to view the river from far above and become genuinely weary for sleep.