Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Lived Experiences of Whitewater Kayakers: A Phenomenological Exploration
by Mayer, Brett, M.A., Prescott College, 2017, 157; 10689210
Abstract (Summary)

This phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of six whitewater kayakers on the Potomac River on the east coast of the United States. Research participants, three women and three men, ranged in age from 21 to 72. The study reviews as context the history of kayaking and the theories of ecofeminism, participant motivation, transformational experience and environmental responsibility, and narrative identity. Further theories of flow, group flow, and earthflow inform the potential creative synergy of the paddler and the river. The study shows that participant motivations change through time and there are common elements of the experience shared among paddlers. The study proposes four themes and related subthemes that describe the whitewater kayaking experience: initiating, deepening, imagining, and appreciating. The study finds that, over time, whitewater kayakers feel connected to something larger than themselves. The majority of whitewater media coverage is incongruous with the reported experiences of whitewater kayakers. Healing the split between reported experiences and common representations may help broaden the appeal of whitewater kayaking to prospective paddlers, promote more reflective decision-making processes, and further active engagement through conservancy by clarifying the connection between the experience of paddling whitewater and the deep gratitude felt among participants. Other practical implications include bringing questions of community identity and the whitewater journey to the forefront of conversations, so that the community can work toward congruent representations of the whitewater experience that focus on connection to nature rather than glorified risk taking. This may help kayakers form a more seamless, ecocentric riverine identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hauk, Marna, Mitten, Denise
Commitee: Brymer, Eric, Hauk, Marna, Mitten, Denise
School: Prescott College
Department: Adventure Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 57/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Education, Sustainability, Recreation
Keywords: Adventure sports media, Ecofeminism, Participation motivation, Phenomenology, Riverine identity, Whitewater kayaking
Publication Number: 10689210
ISBN: 9780355684032
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