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Ecotherapy – a nice term for what many may believe is just a fancy way of saying do cool stuff outside. Nothing could be further from the truth. Howard Clinebell, who wrote the book on ecotherapy in 1996, stated the term refers to healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth. This therapy has become more mainstream as people spend more time indoors, and are looking for a way to manage stress, depression and whole host of other issues without the use of drugs or more traditional psychotherapy.

According to an article in Psychology Today, we crave being in nature. It’s in our makeup to want to be outdoors, immersed in the calming effect it brings to us. In today’s societal makeup, the ability to “unplug” is a rare gift – so rare there are entire vacation clubs dedicated to finding ways to unplug and get away. Nature is calming, and gives us a chance to simply be.

It’s Proven – We Need to be Outdoors

When Heroes on the Water first began kayak fishing experiences, we could see and feel first-hand the impact on our warriors. But we really didn’t know why or what was happening.

Heroes on the Water folks love this time of year. The buds pop on the trees, blossoms emerge, and the fish really start biting. We emerge from our winter slumber ready to embrace our springtime events that allow us to serve more warriors through kayak fishing, camaraderie and community.

Spring also represents growth, and HOW is no exception. We are adding new chapters, volunteers and leadership every week. Which is why it is so exciting to have a seasoned HOW Nation leader now part of the chapter operations support team.

Meet Amber Helms – HOW Area Coordinator

DSC_1223-001Amber, along with her husband Rusty, and Casey Fugett started the NE Oklahoma chapter in November of 2012. In keeping with their passionate and focused style, they held their first event just a few short months later in February. Amber believes it is the passion that started and keeps the chapter going some four years later.

A conference is simply not complete without great guest speakers, and our 2015 Paddle to Excellence Conference certainly had plenty! In addition to our own team members dedicating time and energy to best practices and training, we were honored to have the following guests join us and share their powerful stories:

 Jacob Schick – “Jake” – U.S. Marine Corps veteran

SchickJake speaks candidly about his experience as a Marine, and the injuries he sustained in Iraq in 2004, and even more candidly about how important it is to support veterans as they return home. Jake understands first-hand the abrupt sadness one feels when your life is suddenly and irreversibly changed by serious injuries. He also knows the challenges of TBI and PTS. Yet he kept going, meeting and marrying his wife after he sustained all his injuries, starting a family, and generously giving his time to helping fellow warriors regain peace and passion for life.

“Especially my kids noticed the positive residual effects of kayak fishing.”

Randy Hay is an active duty sergeant based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. And like many warriors, he strives to live a positive life in spite of bouts of anxiety and a diagnosis of PTSD. Looking for a way to gain some peace and perspective, Randy was intrigued by the posting he saw on the Northwest Kayak Anglers website, so he sent an email to Heroes on the Water asking about an upcoming event. He received an immediate response and signed up to go.Randy - My Encouraged Me

That was in April of 2014. It only took one event for Randy to be “hooked.”

“I was surprised at how accommodating everyone was. They were very organized, and very kind, welcoming everyone as they came in. “

Randy went on to say:

“The number one thing I like about this organization is they put the money to good use.”Have you ever wanted to make the world a better place? There are so many ways to heal the world and the people in it. It is amazing how small acts of generosity can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Yet with so many in need, how do you decide on whom? What is it that motivates you to give back?


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