This past month Down Wind Sports hosted the 10th annual Ladies Of The Lake Sea Kayak Symposium on the gorgeous Drummond Island. Drummond Island is an island located in the warm waters of Lake Huron in eastern Upper Peninsula. The island is comprised of 87,000 acres, 150 miles of rugged scenic shoreline, 133 square miles of forested landscape, and 34 inland lakes.
Access to Drummond Island has always been by boat, be it an ancient canoe or the modern ferry, or any of a host of boat possibilities utilized over the years…..this weekend the ferry to the island was loaded with kayaks making their way to our home base the Drummond Island Resort.
This annual gathering of female paddlers was 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.” This is also a unique symposium in that it is a “traveling” symposium. We pick a new location in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula each year that offers diverse paddling opportunities and somewhere new to explore.
Our headquarters for the long weekend was the Drummond Island Resort, built by the former owner of the Detroit Tigers and Domino’s Pizza. The Brooder House ( so named by Tom Monaghan of Domino’s Pizza to help his executives visualize a chicken coop as the place where new ideas are hatched) is where our retail location was set up and all off water activities took place.
On Thursday August 15th the symposium kicked off with Bonnie Perry’s BCU 3 Star training program where 8 eager participants hit the warm waters of Lake Huron to gain the necessary skills to assess for the BCU 3-star award. Participants were greeted with beautiful sunny skies, calm water and the opportunity to learn from one of the Midwest’s top coaches!
The Brooder House was transformed into a paddle sports market place with Down Wind Sports displaying the latest boats, kayaking gear, Silverwaves Jewelry 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. The symposium drew participants from as far away as California, Georgia, Kentucky, 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 coaches returned to this event through our Gold Level sponsors- without these sponsors and these talented ladies our event would not have been the same!
Marsha Henson- Werner Paddles
Ginni Callahan- Werner Paddles
Shawna Franklin- Kokatat
Cindy Scherrer- Confluence Water Sports
Two trips also departed the resort for the day to explore Potagannissing Bay and the many different islands in it. Perfect weather and calm conditions greeted paddlers who enjoyed exploring the diverse shoreline. During the evening the official symposium welcome greeted over 30 1st time participants to our symposium!
On Friday participants were greeted with another spectacular day of sunshine and warm temperatures! From forward strokes to rescues participants learned new and exciting techniques to help improve their paddling. After the morning sessions the ladies could participate in a Lunch Box Lecture and learn while they ate!
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 participating in The Family Feud! (Richard Dawson edition of course) Lots of swag was given out to our lucky contestants and many hilarious moments were provided by “Richard”.
After settling down from the game show participants were treated to a presentation by Ginni Callahan. From Baja to the south seas, Ginni presented amazing photos which showed just how adventurous this woman is. Great job Ginni!
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 and rescues were all fun…..but the one with the most laughs was the Stand Up Paddling class!
Friday and Saturday saw sessions of boat demos. Many participants used this great opportunity provided by the symposium to test paddle the latest boats from all of the leading manufacturers. We are proud to say that this allowed some people to find the perfect boat for them, finishing up their time with a shiny new kayak and a smile from ear to ear.
After another long day of paddling the ladies got dressed in their best costume for The Werner Paddles PirateParty! This year we had the most people dressing up and putting a lot of effort into their outfits. From pirates to parrots, Peter Pan to a whole ship of signing pirates, a great time was had by all!
Sunday after a long night on the dance floor, we were surprised as 18 ladies showed up for the sunrise tour! Afterwards Bonnie Perry gave a moving talk during her annual Blessing of the Boats. 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! More photos of the 2013 LOL can be found here!
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!