This past August Down Wind Sports hosted the 11th annual Ladies Of The Lake Sea Kayak Symposium on the southern shores of Lake Superior in beautiful Munising Michigan. Munising is the gateway city to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore…..unquestionably one of the finest destinations for sea kayakers in the country.
This annual gathering of female paddlers has always been organized to paddle, learn, socialize and celebrate another year of paddling. Our idea is to provide a quality paddling experience promoting “women kayaking with women for women.”
Our headquarters for the long weekend was Sydney’s Restaurant. Sydney’s, located in downtown Munising, has been the host for two of the previous LOL including the inaugural event! The Grand Island Room is where our retail location was set up and all off water activities took place.
On Thursday The Grand Island Room of Sydney’s was transformed into a paddle sports market place with Down Wind Sports displaying the latest boats, kayaking gear, and clothing. As the day wore on, participants weary from the road, stopped in to register themselves and gear up for what would prove to be a great, fun filled weekend. Once again the symposium drew participants from as far away as Virgina, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Washington State, North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan. Some even traveled internationally from Canada! We are very proud to say that we have some of the most talented coaches in the country joining us, many of whom reside right here in the Midwest. Our featured coach Cindy Scherrer returned to this event through our Gold Level sponsor Wilderness Systems- without our sponsors and these talented ladies our event would not have been the same!
The trips that were scheduled for Thursday were re configured due to weather so participants were treated to an Autrain River Float as well as two trips that explored the shoreline of Grand Island.
During the evening’s official symposium welcome- a weekend game plan was discussed and we included over 35 1st time participants to our LOL symposium family - a new record!
On Friday from forward strokes to rescues participants learned new and exciting techniques to help improve their paddling. New this year LOL offered a One Coach class as well as an advanced Rough and Ready Class….both well attended and participant favorites. The afternoon classes went off in their different pods which made for an amazing view, over 100 kayaks on the water, with lots of laughter echoing off the water and back to the shore.
After cleaning up and finishing dinner, participants headed on over to the headquarters and enjoyed an interesting and informative presentation from our coach Andrea Knepper, on Chicago Adventure Therapy. Using outdoor adventure sports like kayaking, orienteering, cycling, and rock climbing, Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) helps under-served youth in Chicago have a lasting positive impact on their communities and become healthy adults by teaching effective social skills, increasing participants’ sense of possibility, and fostering a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility. It was a great way to finish off a day on the water.
On Saturday the weather was again stellar and participants started their morning off with a yoga session thanks to our favorite early morning riser, Patty Boucher! After stretching out, the ladies hit the water for more in depth instruction and fun. Bracing, rolling, towing, rescues and even stand up paddling were all fun!
After another long day of paddling the ladies got gussied up in their best costume for The Werner Paddles Western Party! This year we had the most people dressing up and putting a lot of effort into their outfits. From outlaws to Annie Oakley- as usual this was the party to be at!
Sunday after a long night on the dance floor, we were surprised as at how many ladies showed up for the pastries and paddle tour! Sunday was also a great opportunity for participants to hop into one last class and get a little more practice in before packing up for the long drive home.
We have been involved with many sea kayak symposiums around the great lakes and with all honesty this is by far the one that we look forward to every year. How great is it to see participants so eager to learn, coaches so willing to give so much, and to be surrounded by laughter and smiles all weekend long……can’t wait until next year! A great big thank you to all of those who promoted this event to ensure that 2014 LOL happened. Please keep spreading the word as we will have our new updated 2015 class and tour schedule announced soon!
A big thank you goes out our Gold Level Sponsors who work so hard in helping to make our event successful! Please consider your next purchase from one of these outstanding paddle sports leaders!