This past weekend was a real highlight for me as it was the first time that I brought along my oldest daughter out to a paddling symposium. She has always been interested in kayaking but I didn’t want her first experience to be frustrating so I had been holding off and waiting for her to get a bit bigger so she could control the boat while in a slight breeze. Also, I was waiting for an event with a strong family focus and a great kids program to get her going and the National Sea Kayak Symposium
in Palmers Rapids
, Ontario really fit the bill.
You need to go next year, it’s just awesome. The schedule is super laid back and since it’s combined with the Canadian Canoe Symposium it’s a really great mix of paddlers who are all there to learn different skills. You have sea kayakers and both whitewater and flaterwater canoeists all in attendance and nobody seems to care what type of boat you paddle.
I really appreciate that all the clinics are two hours long. As an instructor, it allows me to get into the meat of the lesson with lots of time for individualized learning. For students, they get to really focus on the skills and not worry about rushing off to their next lesson in an hour. Its win, win, win.
Also, the festival is unique in that there is a small stretch of moving water about 500 yards just upsteam. The washout is long and deep so there is no worry about damaging your glass sea kayak. Whitewater paddlers would rate it probably class II but for beginner canoeists or sea kayakers, it’s a great environment working on eddy lines and figuring out what the long boats will do in moving water.
My nine year old daughter had a total blast all weekend. At one point I looked up from my group of students just in time to see my daughter getting spun around in a mini whirlpool at the bottom of the washout. Later Emily agreed that my wife would have died if she was there to witness it.
Saturday night a local band played classic bar tunes which was really fun. My “crazy legs” daughter wore herself out dancing pretty much the entire night and for the first third of the evening she pretty much was the only one out there ripping it up.
So, it was a very successful weekend. We have already had a conversation for next year dealing with the important details of which boat to paddle and where the tent should be so it’s closer to the action. You know; the important stuff.
What’s next? This weekend the whole thing repeats itself for Palmer Fest when the whitewater paddlers invade the small town of Palmers Rapids. The event is much larger and has been sold out for quite a while. For me, I’m off to White Squall to the Paddle Party there on Sunday then off to Detroit to pick up something special that’s been on order since January...
Here is a small collection of photos from my Flickr set
Top photo credit: Robert Faubert