2 Minnesota Teens Kayak the Mississippi River

2 mn teens paddle mississippi

Matt Rens (on the left above) and Jesse Richard are both from Bloomington, Minnesota. They went on the adventure of their young lives together when they kayaked the Mississippi from “Source to Sea.”

Matt tells us about their 51-day paddle trip…

AB: You paddled for two reasons. What were they?

MATT: We kayaked the river because we dreamed of the adventure! But we also chose to raise funds for Lifewater International, a non-profit organization which brings clean water and sanitation to third world countries.

We knew this trip would be a big deal and could be used for something greater than ourselves.

2 teens facebook post
Matt and Jesse’s Facebook post celebrates reaching their fundraising goal for Lifewater International


AB: Why kayaks?

MATT: Kayaking has many advantages over canoeing. The weight and size of the boat, and also because it has completely sealed dry storage, an easier balance as you’re in the water and more comfortable seating.

The idea to kayak the entire river originated from a short day of kayaking from the Minnesota River to the Mississippi River.

AB: How did you prepare for your trip?

MATT: We read a few expedition kayaking blogs, got the necessary gear, spent a few days getting used to the kayaks and had so much support from the people around us.

The trip would not have been possible without all of the support from the people who donated.

AB: Would you do anything differently?

MATT: I would do a few things differently on the trip. The first would be to ABSOLUTELY wake up for sunrise earlier on in the trip. It would have given us more paddle time and it was so beautiful every morning.

sunrise over mississippi kayakers
Sunrise over the Mississippi River


I would have brought a baseball hat with a firm brim—my shade hat often didn’t cover my face due to the wind.

And I would appreciate it, document it, and remember it better. It was the best experience of my life and I wish I knew how badly I would miss it even during the tough times.

AB: What life lessons did you take away from your kayak trip?

MATT: Life lessons would be to slow down and look around. Go outside. Appreciate everything even as simple as a bed or shower. Value brotherhood. Push past the point where your body is giving up to get the best results.

Here’s a video synopsis of their trip condensed into just over 5 minutes.

For more details about their trip, visit Matt and Jesse’s Source to Sea Facebook page.

(All photos courtesy of Matt and Jesse’s Facebook page, Source to Sea)

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