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WORLD CHAMPION KAYAKER AND INSPIRING OUTDOOR DAD

Nick Troutman is a Canadian World Champion kayaker who travels the country with his family in an RV. Whether kayaking, hiking or camping together, his family shares in the joy of the outdoors every single day. We sat down with Nick and talked with him about his career, family and love of being outside.

L.L.Bean: You fell in love with kayaking when you were 13 – how did you get started?

Nick: I got into kayaking through my best friend, Joel Kowalski, when I was 13. His dad owns the largest rafting company and kayak school on the Ottawa river and one day he said "Nick, I probably wont be able to spend much time with you this summer as I’m going to kayak school, and going to learn to kayak this summer. …Unless you want to try it out and join me?" I thought sure, why not, at least I'll be with my best friend. Within the first 10 minutes I had immediately fell in love with the sport. I was addicted and all I did was think of, dream of, and go kayaking.

L.L.Bean: You and your wife are both champion kayakers – is it tough to balance your time between competitive kayaking and recreational kayaking with your family?

Nick: Not necessarily. Luckily for us we are fortunate enough to be able to kayak and travel often, and we have learned to take every experience and day out on the water a "training" regardless of what we are doing. Though after having children it can sometimes be a little harder to do specific training sessions, and definitely a little harder to paddle together.

We still get out often, and usually just take turns paddling while the other is on shore with the kids. It adds a bit to our training routine, but nothing we can't work around. The best days are when we get to all go down the river together, though these days are more for fun than training.

L.L.Bean: How did you introduce your kids to kayaking?

Nick: Ever since our children were born they have seen their mom and dad in and around kayaks – it is a big part of our life. So naturally we take our kids out with us. Both children would come out while sitting on my lap, on flatwater or easy rivers, before their first birthday.

Though we are around rivers and kayaking all the time, both Emily and I are still a bit particular about when we take the kids out. We try to have all our "river experiences" be good experiences for them, so we try to go when its sunny, preferably warm out, or warm water or with other kids. We pretty much try to do anything and everything to always make sure they think of the kayaking or river trip as a fun time. More then anything, we just don't want to scare our children away from kayaking or the river.

L.L.Bean: What are your greatest accomplishments?

Nick: I would say my greatest professional accomplishments would be winning the World Championships, as that was a major goal for me. Some others would be some of the first descents I have done, or waterfalls I have run, as these are usually big accomplishments both physically and logistically, as well as overcoming some of the mental barriers like fear.

As for my greatest personal accomplishments, I am continually trying to better myself, and really just be truly grateful for all that we have and all that I have been able to do, see and experience. Having a happy and healthy family, and being able to live my dream life is about the biggest accomplishment I could ask for.

L.L.Bean: Your family does lots of stuff outside together – biking, hiking, camping, kayaking and ice climbing. What are your favorite things to do outside with your family?

Nick: Obviously kayaking – I’m still a bit addicted to kayaking and the “river life” – though we are fortunate enough to get to do lots of different family adventures together. I honestly just love being outdoors with my family and seeing the smiles on my wife or my children's faces, whether it be biking, hiking, climbing, or paddling. Camping is also a favorite, as you are just engulfed in the outdoors for days on end.

L.L.Bean: What are your top three kayaking destinations, and why?

Nick: (1) Zambezi River, which boarders Zambia and Zimbabwe, and is home the natural wonder Victoria Falls. It has incredible whitewater and hard to beat walking by zebra, monkeys and baboons on the way to the river.

(2) Rio Alseseca, which has become Mexico's kayaking hot spot. I was part of the first full descent expedition and have helped open up many of the sections of river. And the waterfalls are just epic!

(3) Ottawa River. This is where I grew up in Canada and learned to kayak, so naturally I'm a bit biased. Though it also happens to be home to some of the worlds largest river waves and arguably the single best river for freestyle kayaking in the entire world.

I get this question a lot, and even though I do have some favorite rivers, honestly it comes down to where my friends and family are. It is always going to be a great day on the water when you just with people you love.