You’re out on the lake, and there’s no sounds of motors; all you hear is the lap of small waves, the chatter of nearby birds and the plunk of a turtle diving back down into the water.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of such peace and solitude on the larger lakes in the area, but grab a kayak and launch onto the area’s shallow lakes and riparian zones and you’ll enter a different world.
Mark Foss, a kayaker and certified instructor with the American Canoe Association, is partnering with the Dickinson County Conservation Board again this year to bring a variety of kayaking options.
The second year of Kickstart Your Kayak classes will begin with beginner-level sessions Tuesday, June 13, with classes 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. for ages 10 through adult. Instructors will touch on ways to enter and exit your kayak as well as how to launch the watercraft, will give group and individual instruction on forward paddling techniques, will teach a variety of maneuvering skills on the water and will give safety demonstrations.
Intermediate classes will be held 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, and will include instruction on additional safety techniques and more advanced stroke combinations and maneuvers for open water kayaking.
“We can improve on what they’re already doing,” Foss said. “We can correct some bad habits.”
Although many kayakers simply purchase a watercraft and head out, Foss thinks taking classes is an important part of the sport.
“You can make yourself a much more efficient paddler. You can paddle farther, faster with less chance of injury if you’re using proper technique,” he said. “It will make your overall kayaking experience a lot more enjoyable to have some good basics.”
Youth will have another chance to head out on the water with Kayaking Adventures camps 9-11 a.m. June 20-21 for ages 10-12 and 9 a.m.-noon June 27-28 for ages 13-18.
The first day of Kayaking Adventures includes plenty of time on the water learning paddling techniques and safety, and the second day is an extended paddle, most likely around Pearl Lake and through the wetland and riparian areas by the lake.
“It’s a real interesting ecosystem back there,” Foss said. “That’s the reward for working so hard the first day learning the basics.”
The location of the first day of camp will depend on weather and wind conditions, so all registrants’ guardians will be notified prior to camp where to drop the children off for the morning.
Foss said last year’s campers were mostly new to the sport of kayaking.
“They enjoyed learning to paddle backward, and they like the long, extended paddle, and they enjoy going fast,” he said.
Foss enjoys teaching both the Kickstart Your Kayak classes and Kayaking Adventures camps because he wants to give back to the sport he loves.
In addition to safety habits — making sure people wear personal flotation devices and know where it is safe to take out their kayaks — he also hopes they find a passion for the sport.
“Hopefully they’ll enjoy the sport,” he said. “It’s one you can do — well, I’m almost 70 years old. It’s one you can do well into your golden years.”
Registration for both Kickstart Your Kayak and Kayaking Adventures camps are available by clicking here.
Kickstart Your Kayak costs $20 per person, and beginners may choose whether to bring their own kayak or borrow one. Intermediate kayakers must have kayaking experience, and are required to bring their own kayak and personal flotation device.
Kayaking Adventures costs $40 for Conservation Foundation of Dickinson County members or $50 for non-members. Registration comes with a T-shirt and the option of bringing your own kayak or borrowing one.