New Tour- Stand Up Paddle Board Tour Of Pictured Rocks!

May 19th, 2015 Comments off


Stand Up Paddle Board Pictured Rocks-Miner’s Castle
Saturday 7am (8 miles) ACA Level 4

We are really excited to add different paddle sports opportunities at the symposium and taking a SUP to Pictured Rocks will offer a unique paddling opportunity!  This world class trip starts at Miners Castle Beach and travels northeast along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore’s sandstone cliffs through the impressive Lovers Leap Arch and back.


Along the way plan on exploring caves, arches, and paddling under the many drips and waterfalls. Most of this 8 mile trip is in water open to the wind and waves of Lake Superior and is subject to rebounding waves off the cliffs. There are limited landing places along the rocks at the base of the cliffs. Driving time is 1 3/4 hours (quickest route: 77 to 28 to Munising).


Who’s Your Team?

April 22nd, 2015 Comments off

ThrowDownAnyone who has been to GLSKS before probably knows Kelly Blades and Edith Nelson, and if you don’t know them, you’re missing out. On top of representing two of our great kayak manufacturers (P&H and Wilderness Systems respectively) they are a huge part of our family.

So, what could be more fun than a little family competition? We decided to combine our next promotion with a bit of a contest. We’re pitting these two wonderful people against each other in an epic battle to see who can get more participants to register for the symposium based solely on their great looks and stunning personalities.

So here’s the promotion: Anytime between now and May 15th, if you use one of our coupon codes you can save $75 on your event registration.

And here’s the contest: We’ve created two codes and you can cast your vote based on which code you choose.

Vote for Edith With Code



Vote for Kelly With Code




Both codes get you the same deal, we just want to see who you love more.  Sign up today to cast your vote and show these two some love.  We really couldn’t run GLSKS without them!

Click Here To Sign Up


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Lunch Box Lecture- The Erie Canal

April 20th, 2015 Comments off


During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the new nation known as the United States of America began to develop plans to improve transportation into the interior and beyond the great physical barrier of the Appalachian Mountains. A major goal was to link Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes with the Atlantic Coast through a canal.  The Erie Canal would connect to the port of New York City by beginning at the Hudson river near Troy, New York. The Hudson River flows into New York Bay and past the west side of Manhattan in New York City. From Troy, the canal would flow to Rome (New York) and then through Syracuse and Rochester to Buffalo, located on the northeast coast of Lake Erie.

Proposed in 1808 and completed in 1825, the Erie Canal links the waters of Lake Erie in the west to the Hudson River in the east. An engineering marvel when it was built, some called it the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Our good friend Paul Comstock has graciously offered to present a new Lunch Box Lecture inspired by previous GLSKS Lunch Box Lecturer’s.  “There were two presentations I listened to at past symposiums. There was the incredible circumnavigation of Australia and the “Great Lakes Loop” paddle.  While these were journey’s someone in their mid-sixties would not attempt, they did, however, say to me that a multi-day trip in my kayak was something to seriously plan on.    Consequently, I combined a personal family history search with my desire to do a solo trek.  The perfect venue for both experiences was the Erie Canal.  My grandfather had walked mules on the canal as a boy and captained tug boats that pushed barges along the canal when he died at age 57.   The Canal trip was 346 miles over 19 days, split ½ in the spring and ½ in the fall to enjoy the colors of up-state New York. My approach to the trip is within the grasp of any kayakers. I have shared this with the Houston Association of Sea Kayakers and, as a result, I guided 6 couples on a four day tour of sections of the western portion of the canal this past year”.

We hope you will join Paul on Saturday July 18th to experience the beauty and history of this incredible waterway!



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Gitchi Gumme Project Participant Success!

April 17th, 2015 Comments off


As many of you know, in July of 2012 the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium created a pilot program to bring inner city youth from Chicago to experience the natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and to learn the sport of sea kayaking.  Our goal was to immerse our youth into our existing program guiding them through the skills of kayaking, camping, and the kayak community.  The experience was an overwhelming success for the organizers as well as the participants.  How much of a success?  Two past participants, Cory and Greg have been hired by the new West Marine Chicago flagship store in Chicago.  Actually Greg, who’s on his way to catch a flight from O’Hare right now, has been offered a position at West Marine as the Paddle sports expert- and he’s heading to San Jose for training!


11011031_10152860045343871_9046230320181344959_nTo say we are proud of these two gentlemen is an understatement.  We hope you’ll join us in congratulating them!

Who do we thank for the success of the GGP?  Paddle Sports Industry leader Kokatat, Werner, Bomber Gear, Wilderness Systems, and many Midwest coaches- who stepped up to the plate and made these kids dreams possible!


Featured Class- Up Against the wall- Rescues

April 7th, 2015 Comments off
Over the winter our lead instructors have been busy developing an awesome lineup of courses for the symposium!  We are so blessed to have what we feel is the best location on any of the Great Lakes for a sea kayak symposium.  From a protected harbor, to breakwalls, to caves, arches and waterfalls, to surfable breaks- Grand Marais / Lake Superior is hands down the perfect classroom to perfect your skills.  Join us at the GLSKS to participate in one of these fine classes such as……..
Up Against the Wall – Rescues
While you may think of open water rescues as the most risky, rescues in confined locations like caves, cliffs, and break walls are often more dangerous. In this course, you’ll visit those environments in a controlled setting and learn about different methods to perform rescues in them. Short and long tow rigs are a requirement for this course, as is solid boat control and a willingness to be in the water.


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Featured Tour- Williams Island / Wood Island / Grand Island

March 31st, 2015 Comments off


New for 2015!  Williams Island / Wood Island / Grand Island

Thursday 7am (14 miles) ACA Level 2/ 3
Discover one of the region’s most secret of secrets as you explore three separate islands and it’s cliffs, sea caves, and arches.  The Islands all set of the shores of Munising and are seldom visited by paddlers.   You’ll launch at the Grand Island public access, cross to Grand Island, follow the sandy shoreline to the West, then make the crossing to the islands.

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GLSKS February Newsletter!

February 19th, 2015 Comments off

PR Shadow

The 2015 paddling season is almost here! (As we write this we have wind chills of -20f).  Don’t worry though, sit down by the wood stove, relax, and enjoy the latest news from the symposium. Click the link below to check out the latest news on one of the oldest kayak symposiums in the country!

Do you have tips, tricks, stories, or tall tales to tell? Write it down and send it to us for future Newsletters! Let’s be honest: you don’t want to hear what the organizers have to say. You want to read about the adventures of other GLSKS participants, and they want to read about yours!
Email submissions of 450 words or less to

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Featured Coach- Doug Neal

February 17th, 2015 Comments off


Doug first attended the GLSKS in 2005 and has been coaching since 2007. He holds both ACA and BCU teaching certifications and also has a PhD in fluid dynamics. As an instructor/coach, he is interested in making scientific concepts accessible for the non-scientifically minded paddler. Coming up to Grand Marais each year for the GLSKS is one of the highlights of his summer. In 2012, he met his wife Lisa at the GLSKS, who also attends each year and is equally addicted to all forms of paddling. In 2014, he helped to organize the instructional staff for the GLSKS. Doug and Lisa are just  a son in early 2015. They plan on hanging a mobile of kayaks, canoes and paddles over his crib.

Coming from a family of outdoor enthusiasts, Doug started out paddling the two family canoes at an early age. In college he tried kayaking for the first time and found it was like stepping behind the wheel of a Ferrari after years of driving a Winnebago. From that point he was hooked and he started pursuing as many open water adventures as possible. Previous trips have included multi-day trips in Maine, Virginia, Canada and throughout the Great Lakes. His favorite spot is to paddle and camp to is on the north beach of Grand Island, where you can pretty much have the entire beach to yourself. He has since pursued instructor/coaching certifications in both the ACA and BCU.

Doug has been coming to the GLSKS since 2005 and has been coaching at GLSKS since 2007. Grand Marais has always been a special place for him ever since his parents first brought him there when was 12 years old. The unique location, access to world class paddling, and the fantastic community of paddlers all bring him back to the U.P. and GLSKS year after year. In 2012, he met his wife Lisa in Grand Marais at the GLSKS. In 2014, he upped his role to Coaching Communication Coordinator for the GLSKS. He looks forward to the event every summer and is constantly coming up with other excuses to get up the UP.

One reason Doug became interested in sea kayaking was it offered an interesting diversion to his PhD studies in fluid dynamics at Michigan State University. Today when not in a boat, he can be found in research labs across the country, working as a research engineer for a small company based in Michigan. This work has included making fluid dynamics measurements on the swimming patterns of stingrays, studying the turbulence of beer pouring out of the Miller Lite “Vortex” bottle (remember that gimmick?!?) and investigating the aerodynamics of race cars. Whenever possible, he enjoys discussing kayaking from a scientific viewpoint and tries to include scientific concepts in his kayak coaching.

In 2014, he helped to organize the instructional staff for the GLSKS. Doug and Lisa are just gave birth to their son and they are in the process of hanging a mobile of kayaks, canoes and paddles over his crib.

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Featured Coach- Keith Wikle

January 6th, 2015 Comments off


Suffice it to say I am a paddlesports enthusiast. Over the last 15 years I’ve traveled far and wide in the Midwest and abroad for waves, expeditions, and fun from a kayak. I really enjoy paddling lumpy and moving water. Nothing beats the feeling of a kayak planing down the face of a wave at top speed. Because of this enthusiasm, I have sought out coaching certifications to be able to share this excitement.


Keith Wikle is a an avid great lakes surfing enthusiast in both a sea kayak and a small surf kayak. His experience and coaching in moving water even drew him to starting his own Great Lakes freshwater intermediate to advanced instructional event the Gales Storm Gathering. He has sought out coaching certifications with both the BCU and the ACA to provide top flight coaching in the Midwest. Keith has traveled for kayaking and surfing on both coasts, Ireland, and British Columbia. His instructional business in Kalamazoo Michigan is


Featured Coach- David Johnson

December 23rd, 2014 Comments off

7636126850_ea9b0b0a03 On a desk in the Police office, in the small village of Grand Marais, sits a cold case….a mystery of sorts of the Boathenge Builder.  You see several years ago several boats “mysteriously” were buried, and arranged into a structure that was eerily similar to that rock formation across the pond.  That year there were several Canadians attending and of course everyone suspected them…you know, because everyone knows how devious Canadian’s can be.  Having said that, the Grand Marais version of the OPP (that’s Canadian for police), still haven’t gathered enough evidence to convict so the case remains open.  This year we are excited to announce the return of the Canadians in force, and our first featured coach is the notorious David Johnson! 291072_284867531536086_1406879381_o David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools Ontario including White Squall Paddling Centre and Naturally Superior Adventures. Kayak instruction has allowed him to travel throughout North America including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and San Francisco but nothing is quite as good as paddling on Lake Superior. David serves as the chair of the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee with Paddle Canada which is responsible for maintaining the national program syllabus. In his free time David also runs the popular sea kayaking news and gossip website, Paddling Headquarters ( as well as the co-host of the podcast, Kayak Mainline with his partner in crime, Kelly Blades. 1294331_459158890872471_2084097888_o David is also a team paddler with P&H Kayaks, Werner Paddles, Kokatat, North Water and Aquapac. When not paddling, David lives in Toronto where he is a web designer with the Ontario Provincial Government. Future dream jobs include becoming a professional wrestler referee or a certified waterslide tester. unnamed

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