The number of people with kayaks in the Iowa Great Lakes area has been exploding the past few years.
“It’s good exercise; we have a lot of good water resources. Plus, it’s much more economical than a power boat,” said kayaker Mark Foss. “We have lots of areas that are more suitable for kayaking, like our wetland areas.”
Foss is a certified American Canoe Association instructor and will be teaching Kickstart Your Kayak classes this summer, in partnership with the Dickinson County Conservation Board, for beginner and advanced kayakers.
The beginning Kickstart Your Kayak classes will be 9 a.m.-noon or 1-4 p.m. Monday, June 12.
For the Level 1 classes, Foss will focus on kayak safety, including how to avoid unsafe conditions, stressing the use of a personal flotation device and basic rescue techniques. He will also go over stroke techniques — how to go forward, backward, maneuver side to side and stop.
“It’s good to take a class to learn from a professional, because a lot of skills Foss teaches are proper paddling techniques, and if you follow these techniques you’ll enjoy the sport a lot more,” said Bryanna Kuhlman, conservation board environmental education coordinator. “You’ll understand why your boat isn’t doing what you’re telling it to do.”
Ages 16 and older may register for the classes, which cost $20. Students may bring their own kayak and personal flotation device or may request to borrow the equipment for the course. The location of the class will be chosen as weather and wind conditions are evaluated, and it will be announced to participants via e-mail prior to the class date.
Each class is limited at five participants, because Foss will spend plenty of one-on-one instruction time with each student.
“We take time with each student because we want people to have something to go work with the rest of the year,” Foss said.
Response to the beginners kayak course has been positive in past years as participants have learned ways to avoid fatigue and injury through proper paddling techniques and also the importance of wearing a PFD while on the water.
“We have quite a bit of community interest in kayaking,” Kuhlman said. “Even if you have taken a beginners course, you can use this as a refresher. We want the community to enjoy being on the water but also do it safely.”
Those who take the beginners class, or have taken a Level 1 class with Foss or another instructor, may also register for an advanced Kickstart Your Kayak class 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 7.
“That’s going to take them to the next level,” Foss said.
The advanced class will go into advanced stroke technique to increase kayaking ability for kayaking trips on large bodies of water. Participants will also get in the water to learn about open water rescues.
Registration for both all Kickstart Your Kayak courses at www.dickinsoncountyconservationboard.com/event-registration, or call 712-336-6352 for more information.