Tag Archive: First Descents


Today it is my privilege to share with you a very special poem written  by one of the many amazing cancer survivors I had the honour of meeting at a First Descents camp in Colorado.  Her camp name is “Slam,” a name that she has earned by sharing with us some of her amazing slam poetry.

You’re probably wondering: “So what exactly is slam poetry?”  Ah, an excellent question.  That is precisely what our guide Geordie asked Slam one fateful morning as we went kayaking out on the Colorado River for the very first time.  Without even missing a beat, Slam replies with a wicked poem, matched to a beat, that not only explains the concept but demonstrates it superbly as well.  Our little group of  kayakers and guides was blown away!  That night at campfire we created a brand new award  – the first ever “Awesome Award” – and Slam became the first person ever to win it.

Naturally, when I described the story to everyone explaining why Slam was about to win this new prize (only a few of us got to hear the poem on the water), a chorus of “Prove it!” erupted.  For the second time that day, Slam rose to the occasion and turned skeptics and the uninitiated alike into big time fans of her epic rhymes.

After a raucous round of applause, we asked her if she would consider working on another bit of slam poetry, one that would capture the essence of our First Descents camp.  Slam didn’t make any promises, but she said she would work on it and see what she could come up with.

At the end of camp, we were all eager to hear her poem.  Slam did not disappoint, producing another instant classic.  It’s an honour to share with you now Slam’s First Descents anthem.

First Descents by Adele “Slam” Ramos

We got off the plane
Note sure what to expect
Would it be a first descent?
Or a first eject

The road was windy
The future unknown
We were truly out of our comfort zone

All survivors
Far and Near
Cancer Crushers
Crushing Fear

With the river in front of us
We were on our way
Ready for
A brand new day

Sway your hips
From side to side
Kayak straight
An’ enjoy the ride

Rock the Rapids
Ride the Waves
Boof the Rocks
Surf and Save

The swift and the quick
Guide that stick
An’ paddle on your way

This river battle
Runs deep and shallow

So get down low
Learn how to roll

Wipe that splash from your face

Wet exit when you need to
All you do is lean in through
There is no such disgrace

Pick up that boat
To return to float
With a smile on your face

Cancer led us to this place
7W greased the wheels
I am not sure why I ended up here
Yet, I’m loving how it feels

When these days come to an end
I will look to see your faces again

All locked in
An eddy flower
Floating on Water
Flying on Power

Row, Row, Row your Boat
That’s all you have to do to stay afloat
Sway Your Hips
From Side to Side
We Rock this River with FD Pride

Slam sporting her "Awesome Award" (i.e. the hat!)

So as you probably already know, I spent the past week in Colorado kayaking the great Colorado River with an awesome group of cancer survivors and the best adventure guides I’ve ever met.  It was a life changing experience made possible by the wonderful people at First Descents, an amazing non-profit organization that helps people affected by cancer.  If you haven’t heard of them yet, you have to check out their site right away!

Ok so now that you know what First Descents is all about, I wanted to give you a glimpse of our camp.  While I work away at distilling my own thoughts about camp and trying to preserve the memories forever, I would like to share with you the excellent recap written by one of my fellow campers.  In this note she posted to her Facebook page, she does an excellent job of capturing what our camp experience was all about.

Enjoy!

“Knuckles”

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