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UWS community paddles open kayaking to public

The water off Barker's Island was smooth and glassy when the kayakers pushed off. Despite an earlier drizzle, the boaters stayed dry as they circled the island earlier this week.

Kayakers
Tom Carroll (right) and Case Turner, of the UWS SOAP program, unload kayaks near the shore of Barker's Island in Superior on Wednesday evening in the pouring rain before going for a paddle. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The water off Barker's Island was smooth and glassy when the kayakers pushed off. Despite an earlier drizzle, the boaters stayed dry as they circled the island earlier this week.

"I like to paddle," said Bruce Smith of Superior. "It's just a good way to be out on the water.

"It's a nice, quiet sport."

Kayaking can be a solitary sport for many.

"Sometimes in the community you only paddle by yourself," said University of Wisconsin-Superior student Case Turner. That's what makes the community paddles sponsored by the university's Superior Outdoor Adventure Program unique.

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"It's a great way to try out other equipment, meet other people and see other places that you maybe aren't comfortable going alone," said Turner, a staff member with the program.

Karen Isensee joined a community paddle at Billings Park last summer. She said the program is a great deal.

"It's just a really cool thing the university is doing," said Isensee, who lives at Pattison Park. "They provide the kayaks and everything; they just provide so much."

What was it like kayaking together in Superior?

"Just very relaxing, a good way to spend a summer evening," Isensee said.

The university provides a number of kayaks and life jackets for people to use for a nominal fee of $5. Those with their own kayaks can join the flotilla free. Each paddle starts with hands-on training in paddling and safety.

Lael Gombar has been working with the Student Outdoor Adventure Program for more than two years. She encouraged everyone to join in the community paddles.

"Right now the kayaking trips are geared toward the community, not just campus," she said. "And you get to come with us on a lot of trips. It's informational. You learn a lot of basic skills."

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And, Turner said, "You meet other people."

The university is also sponsoring three kayak sessions geared for younger paddlers this summer. The first youth paddle will navigate around Barker's Island from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday. Youth up to age 18 are welcome, but parents or guardians must drop them off and sign a permission slip. Parents may join the paddle.

The only weather that sidelines the university-led kayak trips are high winds, thunder and lightning, Gombar said. Wednesday's drizzle didn't slow them down at all.

"They still come in the rain," Gombar said. Anywhere from five to 15 people take part in the weekly paddles.

For information or to reserve a kayak, call (715) 395-4647 or e-mail SOAP@uwsuper.edu . Information is available at www.uwsuper.edu .

Related Topics: FAMILYLAKE SUPERIORSUPERIOR
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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