The Value of Staying in the Present… Two Female Kayakers Share Their Stories

June 4 2018 BY Keely

In 2018, Keely’s Camp is expanding into our first ever Kayak Camp for girls. Meet Taylor Dwyer and Brenna Kelleher, two incredible female kayakers who have taken their love for the rivers worldwide.

Brenna Kelleher, ACA Level 4 Certified Kayak Instructor, 2001 World Junior Freestyle Champion


Please tell us about your background kayaking.

I learned to kayak on the Gallatin River in Montana. My parents loved being on the river and instilled in me at a young age a passion for kayaking. One of the most profound places that impacted my kayaking career was being able to spend time on the Payette Rivers in Idaho. This led me to attend a high school kayak academy in Vermont which took me to Africa and Napal to kayak on the most pristine rivers in the world.

What are the main skills have you gained from whitewater kayaking?

There are a variety of skills I have gained from kayaking. One being the ability to read and run rivers which as a young adult helped me in decisiveness and certainty in my own decisions. Being on a river has made me more aware of my natural surroundings. Whether floating through a gorge or a valley kayaking can be the best way to see the world.


Sisters Keely and Brenna grew up chasing each other down Montana rivers.

How has your experience on rivers impacted your life? 

Being on rivers has made me an overall stronger person. Most of all rivers have brought fun, community, and energy to my life. Kayaking is a great way to feel more grounded and connected to your natural surroundings. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up playing on the rivers. I feel like I’ve become a stronger and more decisive person because of my experiences kayaking.





Taylor Dwyer, ACA Level 4 Certified Kayak Instructor

When and where did you learn to kayak? 14650686_10154636129497658_6139081355972979250_n

I started kayaking in 2009 in college, at Chico State University, in Chico, California. It was the beginning of sophomore year, I had signed up for a recreation rock climbing class and during orientation they mentioned that there was a kayak course that still had space in it. For some reason I dropped climbing that day and signed up for kayaking, knowing little to nothing about what I was in for. It ended up being the best and most influential decision of my life.

What skills have you gained from whitewater kayaking? 

I became an Instructor of whitewater kayaking very quickly into my paddling career and that has taught me more about people than anything else.  I have been able to work with so many populations of humans; 6-77 yr olds, disabled, wounded veterans, cancer patients and survivors, all kids, and women groups. That little plastic boat is an incredible tool for connecting.

Kayaking has also taught me how to take on fear and failure and the value of staying in the present moment.

taylor-dwyerHow has your experience on rivers impacted your life? 

Kayaking is an amazing unify-er and equalizer. It has taken me all over the world (AND connected me to my own backyard), to places that I would never be able to see but from a kayak. When I am able to travel, it’s pretty amazing to see that even when I cannot communicate with the locals because of a language barrier, kayaking itself is a language, and without fail I am accepted in with ecstatic camaraderie because of our shared love for this sport.

Through kayaking I have met some of the most important people in my life, and have experienced some of the most meaningful moments of courage, laughter, appreciation, and trust with them, deep in the canyons. I just feel so grateful to have been opened up to river life, it will absolutely be a part of my life– and I want to keep sharing it for as long as I can.

Thank you Brenna and Taylor for sharing your stories with us. Interested in learning to kayak? Register for our Introductory Whitewater Kayak and Outdoor Leadership Camp today!