Beers With Bill 6- Send Me Your Best Shots!

July 6th, 2015 Comments off


Beers With Bill VI Thursday July 16th 8:00pm

Haven’t been to a Beers with Bill before?  The idea is to have everyone submit their favorite kayaking photos and Bill will put them together in a slide show set to music.  During the show feel free to cheer (or jeer) for your personal favorites!  If you have great pictures to show that you took, and just love, please submit them to Bill at (in digital form please) and he will put them all together for the show.  As always for the “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill 6” we will provide tasty beverages so come on down to the community center for a fun filled evening.  Don’t forget if you plan on participating in the Night Harbor Tour (No Beers during Beers with Bill!)

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What Are Friends For? Introducing Them To Kayaking Of Course!

June 10th, 2015 Comments off


If you have ever been to the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium you will know the event is so much more than a kayaking event.  It is a gathering of like minded people who share a love for the water. Our little symposium is the oldest on the Great Lakes and over the years  many friendships have developed throughout the weekend. These friendships last longer than the weekend and many lifelong paddling partnerships were forged at the symposium. We treasure this above everything else we do. Many friends find renewed excitement through kayaking together during the tours and classes, and many paddlers introduce their non-paddling friends to the sport during the symposium.

We want you to bring to your friends with you when you join us this summer. It’s just more fun for everyone that way.

So from now until July 10th we are giving you a little something extra if you bring a friend with you. We will give both of you a $25 gift certificate to Down Wind Sports! That’s right, $25 for you and $25 for your friend! The gift certificate can be used on any of the paddling gear at the symposium or any of the products in either the Marquette or Houghton stores. This is a great way to get an even better deal on the already discounted paddling gear at GLSKS headquarters. If you bring multiple friends, you can get multiple gift cards.  Want a new dry suit?  Just bring 25 friends with you!

This deal is valid only to participants who register for the 2015 Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium or coaches teaching at the event. It is only available to those who register between June 10th and July 10th. If you have already signed up and you get a friend to register before July 10th, you are still eligible for the gift cards. All you have to do is email Bill ( after you sign up and let him know who your friend is.  We will have the gift cards waiting for you when you arrive in Grand Marais.

Register By Clicking Here!

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Paddle Around The Rock!

June 8th, 2015 Comments off


Well not technically a rock but an island….a grand one at that!  Only a few spots remain on this exceptional trip/learning experience!

Expedition Trip Planning and Execution 101

Ever wanted to do an overnight excursion, or a 10 day trip around a remote island, but wondered if you had the skills, the planning, and the endurance to make it safe, fun, and an enjoyable experience? Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium is offering an Expedition 101 course for paddlers looking to test their mettle.

This course will be a journey around Grand Island over three days. This course will be limited to 12 students based on reserving campsites.

This course will teach the following concepts and skills:

Risk Assessment and Risk Plotting. This covers a framework for go-no-go decisions.

Marine Weather and Forecasting for the Great Lakes

What to bring and how to pack a sea kayak for an expedition.

Paddling Skills for expeditions and journeys. Safe, efficient, and effective paddling with loaded kayaks in conditions on Lake Superior, and close in to cliffs and rocks.

Launching and landing a loaded sea kayak.

Rescues, towing, and Incident Management for expeditions

Group Management and Leadership Concepts for Expeditions



Course Requirements


This course will require significant physical effort and fitness. Participants must be prepared to paddle the distance around Grand Island.


This course will require a sea kayak with two bulkheads, and full static rescue lines around the kayak.

Drybags to store all your gear, (any last minute needs can be taken care of with Downwind Sports).

Paddle clothing, drysuit, or at minimum drytop/wetsuit combo, Sprayskirt

Paddle and a Spare paddle

Tow Belt

Camping Gear

Small tent, campsites are small and July will be popular with hikers along the trail.

Sleeping bag, pad,

Campstove, pots, and dishes to eat from, headlamp,

Dry warm shore clothing for 3-4 days

Food for 4 days

Water Filter

Hand Compass


This course will run from July 15th- July 17th 2015

The course will begin with a shuttle from Grand Marais to Sand Point. 9 AM July 15th

The course will end Sand Point where we will have a vehicle staged with a trailer. Ending on July 17th.


What is provided

This trip will provide an awesome experience for guided discovery learning on sea kayaking while on a journey, the best classroom to take your paddling to the next level. Instruction, planning, and group management will be provided by ACA/BCU instructors.

Camping Permits will be handled by GLSKS.


What is not provided

All of the required gear and food will be needed and NOT provided by GLSKS. While the course will provide instruction it will NOT provide a guided experience, meaning participants will cook and prepare their own meals and set up their own tents and generally be ready to take care of themselves.

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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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