Twenty years ago, Boise kayaker Paul Collins had a dream to build a small wave on the Boise River where kayakers could safely practice and play. That whimsy turned into a $25 million collection of facilities that includes 66 acres of flat-water paddling, waterfront park space and a state-of-the-art, in-river whitewater park that’s still growing.

“I didn’t imagine what we have, but I dreamt about it,” said Collins, an orthopedic surgeon based in Boise. “I couldn’t’ tell you the specific size, depth, how much concrete or where the waves would be. But I had a dream that we would have a place to play, and we do.”

Collins continues to work as part of a group called Friends of the Park, which raises money for the still-expanding riverside facilities in Boise’s West End. Although he and a handful of others first introduced the notion of a river park to the community, it has grown far beyond their original vision. Major financial stakeholders now also include the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, J.R. Simplot Foundation and City of Boise, each having contributed millions to transform a neglected part of the city into what may well be the nation’s premier outdoor aquatics recreation facility.