Bellyaking at Camp PossAbility

Summer Camp and the Bellyak: A Perfect Pair

By Lauren E. Harmison


In 2015, I began a summer camp called Camp PossAbility. The camp is a one week adapted summer camp in Martinsville, IN. It serves young adults who are 18 to 35 with physical disabilities, who use a wheelchair, and have a typical high school diploma. We are the only camp exactly like us (that we know of) because we are longer than a retreat weekend, are not sports-only, and serve only adults with high cognitive function.

About our Campers

Most of our campers have physical disabilities that have affected their ability to participate in outdoor activities. At Camp PossAbility we change all of that. Campers participate in everything from canoeing, to bellyaking, swimming, adapted biking, playing sit volleyball, climbing adapted ropes courses, doing adapted climbing towers, ziplining, and more.


Camp PossAbility and the bellyak

One resource we were introduced to early on was the bellyak.  A staff member at the outdoor facility that we rent shared an article with me about bellyak and Kyle Morgan. Kyle is a bellyak adaptive-athlete ambassador who was using them. I was very excited about the possibilities and additional adapted opportunities for our campers, so I looked into purchasing our own bellyak. Luckily, we had some sponsors come forward in 2016 to purchase two of them. Our campers loved them and they are now a main activity at the camp. Campers look forward to using them each summer. Several campers have even done fundraising to purchase their own bellyaks because they loved having the feel of freedom on the water!

Bellyak Testimonials

Mason, a camper who is affected by a spinal cord injury, said:
“I like using the bellyak at Camp PossAbility because I get to be in the water without having to rely on someone for help. I get to be out of my wheelchair and can still move around! Being paralyzed, I was cautious at first about getting on the bellyak, but soon realized they were very stable. The bellyak gave me a good workout maneuvering around on the water. [It] was like I was floating on clouds and I didn’t want to get off.”

This Year at Camp PossAbility

By the time July comes around and camp week begins, Camp PossAbility will own 6 bellyaks and will have completed our mini fleet. We are so excited about the adapted opportunities that our campers get to have. Bellyak is a big part of those!


If you want to find out more about Camp PossAbility, please check out our website: We would love to have more campers and volunteers join our camp TRIBE!


If you want to donate to help support this amazing place, please check out: Camp PossAbility costs approximately $82,000/year and we have no paid staff, including my CEO position. Campers only pay $450 with their actual costs being $2100/camper. The rest of the funding is raised with donations and grants. We would love to have your support!


Thank you so much! See you on the Water!


Lauren E. Harmison
CEO, Camp PossAbility





Kyle Morgan led an active lifestyle — he pushed a skateboard, kayaked and rode motorcycles competitively. There was no action sport he wouldn’t try. But a bad decision in 2010 left him with a spinal cord injury, paralyzed from the shoulders down, with some movement in his arms but no fine motor control of his hands. Now considered a quadriplegic, his life was altered forever. He spent three years in a power chair, assessing and reassessing his life. One day, the chair broke down, stranding him in one place, helpless. For Kyle, that was rock bottom. He decided then that even if he was a challenged athlete, he was still an athlete.

A Challenged Athlete

He’d always exercised, but hadn’t done much of anything since the accident. When his chair got stuck, it reignited his desire for independence. Kyle talks about those early days: “I started pushing myself manually around my house in an old busted-up, raggedy hospital wheelchair.”Exercise drove him forward. Kyle regained so much strength that he competed in 5k races with a slightlyassisted manual chair. Now, he says, “I’m into fitness. I believe no matter what state you’re in, you can always be better.”

Bellyak and Adaptive Kayaking

Despite the success, he still missed the excitement of kayaking. As he tells it, “I thought my days of being on the river were over. I had a kayak, but couldn’t use it because… I couldn’t keep my balance or even grip the paddle.” He’d never heard of adaptive kayaking, and frankly, adaptive sports — active activities for challenged athletes — didn’t get much press coverage.A friend helped connect Kyle to Bellyak. Kyle remembers, “A kayaking buddy of mine found Bellyak’s Facebook page and shared it with me. From the moment I saw it, I knew I could use it.” Kyle reached out to Bellyak and built a friendship with owner Adam Masters. Adam was so intrigued by Kyle’s attitude that he lent him a Bellyak to try out. And just like that, adaptive kayaking in a Bellyak became a reality.

Prone Kayaking for Challenged Athletes

“It felt so good to get back on the water,” Kyle says. “The first time, in a pool, was incredible. The thing I liked about the experience was that no one could tell I was paralyzed. I paddled around just like anyone else would. I was having such a good time paddling around, I didn’t even realize the workout I was getting. After just 30 minutes, I could barely push myself back to my van.” Kyle loved the experience so much that he wants to share it. He’s been trying to organize a Bellyak group of others with spinal cord injuries. He tells them, “I get such a freeing feeling when I’m paddling around — it’s a feeling I thought I’d never experience again, so now I appreciate it all the more.”

In Training for a Real Adventure

Kyle gets to the pool as often as he can, but due to his injury, he still needs help getting in and out of his Bellyak. “One day, I want to feel comfortable hitting up a river,” he says. “That’s my overall goal. But for right now, I’ll stay in a pool and keep my wife’s anxiety level down. I’ve put her through enough with my adrenaline-fueled lifestyle.”

Adaptive sports, including adaptive kayaking, has helped revitalize Kyle’s attitude on life. It’s something he brings to his everyday life as well. “Just because I’m paralyzed doesn’t mean I’m going to live life differently,” he says. He’s learned to embrace his new life, appreciating each day and trying get as much as he can out of each moment.

Kyle’s new motto: “I may not have 100 percent, but I use 100 percent of what I have.”

Kyle Morgan is on Team Bellyak as an adaptive athlete and an active ambassador to help the differently-abled get on the water. Kyle is also “Chief Motivator.”

See Kyle’s story on video here.



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