At age 10, Jack Guin already knows his way around a canoe — and a number of local whitewater runs, too, including the Class IV North Chick, a steep creek in Soddy-Daisy that intimidates paddlers twice his age.
But he doesn't consider his on-water accomplishments to be that big of a deal.
"To me, it's just another day," says Jack, who was basically raised in a canoe manufacturing warehouse.
The son of Richard Guin, veteran open boater and vice president of Chattanooga's Mohawk Canoes, Jack says his earliest memory is tandem canoeing the Hiwassee River with his father.
At age 7, he began boating solo after Richard modified an old Mohawk Maxim, shaving three inches off its sides to accommodate his small son.
"I like [the boat] because it's short enough to be nimble," Jack says. "And I like that I can say my dad used to paddle it. We have that in common."
Born in 2010, one week before Tennessee's inaugural Ain't Louie Fest celebrating the whitewater-canoe subculture, Jack has always been immersed in a community of open-boaters. And as he's progressed, they've been eager to show him the ropes — or the lines, as it were.
He's even been taught to roll his canoe, which is the tricky act of righting a capsized boat using precise body and paddle movement.
But, Jack admits, he's still dialing in that skill.
He remembers last November, his first time solo boating North Chick.
"I'd always heard so much about it being big and scary. Well, it was going awesome — until I got worked in a hole," Jack says. "I tried to roll, but the [current] ripped the paddle out of my hands."
That day, local canoeist Shawn Malone quickly helped Jack to shore. His father had been almost too nervous to even watch Jack attempt the run.
"I am completely terrified even watching him in Class III," Richard says. On North Chick, "I finally just had to look at Shawn and say, 'Take my son and please don't kill him.'"
Ultimately, Richard says, he trusts his community. And his son, too.
"Jack has never been the type of kid to step outside of his limitations," says Richard.
Not on the water, anyway. In addition to being a paddler, Jack is an avid mountain biker.
Recently, the family took a trip to Fayetteville in West Virginia where Jack wanted to run an expert-level double-black-diamond trail.
"I called him off it," Richard says. "He threw such a fit that I let him run it the next day — and he fired it up; he did great."
Seeking more 'young guns'
Do you know a local kid doing amazing things in his or her sport, whether that’s running, climbing, swimming or even hula-hooping? We want to hear their stories! Tell us about your young gun in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Bonus points for pictures!