Here's what some of the participants had to say about the event...
Bill and Gail
Jim and Kathy
Bill and Gail
We were nervous and having second thoughts. What had we signed up for and how badly were we going to embarrass ourselves?
Numerous people over the years had encouraged us to join the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium. We finally took the plunge at Canoecopia and signed on the dotted line. But now, as we loaded up the car and headed for Door County, we worried. We’ve paddled canoes for….let’s just say years. We’ve also paddled kayaks for a few.
Would we have to relearn everything? Would we keep up with younger, more agile paddlers? Would our adventures pale in comparison? Would we return home discouraged about the boats hanging in the garage?
We quickly left those thoughts behind. What an energizing crowd of new and seasoned paddlers we met! What a stunning lineup of instructors who not only knew their way around paddling, but were adept at teaching to all the levels of learners we were.
Rutabaga staff helped us select the sessions that would give us what we needed. Safety came first as we loaded people, boats and gear onto the water. Then we were treated to excellent hands on learning moments by very skilled people. Each instructor told us exactly what we were about to learn. Then it was demonstrated. And finally, with close supervision, we tried it all ourselves. We were encouraged to reach as far as we could to learn, improve and extend our paddling experience.
And there was time: to review, to try it again, to try it a different way, to make sure we got the full measure of instruction and experience, so that each of us could walk away with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. We saw many of those faces on people who had attempted something new, conquered fear and surprised themselves.
The Door County Sea Kayak Symposium energized us. We got home eager to load our boats and get out on the water with new skills and confidence. As our family believes, “life is better, ….on the water.”
Now we are the people encouraging others. Just sign up. Even if you are a seasoned paddler, there will be something new; great gear, terrific people, excellent instructors, good food, good beer, and big water. You can’t go wrong unless you don’t take the chance.
After paddling on our own for two years, my wife and I attended our first DCSKS in 2013 looking for instruction. What we learned that first year exceeded our expectations AND we met some great folks. We wished we had done this two years ago. We booked our room at Rowley's Resort for the 2014 Symposium before we left that first year. 2014 again exceeded our expectations with great instruction during the day and we looked forward to the social time and dinners at the end of each day under the big tent. We recommend the symposium frequently to new and experienced paddlers alike. With the broad range of classes and trips to choose from, there is something for everybody. Now our biggest challenge is deciding what class and trips were are going to do in 2015!
I don’t get out kayaking enough. When I do, just as I start to really get comfortable in the cockpit again, it’s time to head home. When I mentioned this to a paddling buddy, he said, “Dude, you gotta do the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium."
Though I went alone and didn’t know anyone there, when I arrived Thursday evening, I found myself part of a conversation circle in less than ten minutes—beer in hand. Over the next two days, I took three classes and a tour. In every case, I connected with other similarly-skilled paddlers and gained greater confidence and comfort in my kayak.
There’s no learning environment like immersion. Just like living among native speakers has helped my foreign language skills, a couple days with fellow paddlers and instructors improved my paddling. When I went keel-to-the-sky once, several paddlers were ready to assist me. That immersion? No problem. I was wearing a rented dry suit and got back in the boat smiling.
Paddle in the morning, paddle in the afternoon. Hang out with kayakers of all ages and backgrounds. Eat, sleep, repeat. I expected immersion, got both kinds, and had a blast.
I signed my teenage son and myself up for the DCSKS with the intent of spending a weekend together, and expanding my comfort level (he was 17, and had the young man’s sense of invincibility). The menu of courses was large and diverse enough to require a couple of evenings together choosing classes and dreaming about spring.
What we didn’t expect was the community we encountered. Before we could get our boats off the car people were introducing themselves and offering help. Within a few minutes we felt part of the event.
For three days I learned techniques, stretched my comfort level in a safe environment, shared meals and perspectives with a community and tired my body.
On the way home my son confessed he hadn’t been interested in a symposium. He’d looked the word up in the dictionary, and it said this was a formal meeting where experts discussed topics. He loved this event, which he described as a group of experts sharing their love sea kayaking.
Although I had been kayaking/canoeing for many years I knew that I needed to be better equipped to do the type of kayaking I really wanted to do. We tend to think equipping is all about the gear but I needed the expertise and knowledge base to be able to safely explore more and have more confidence doing it. My goals were all realized at the Symposium. Coming solo at the last minute was a bit of a challenge but I met some great people, ate some awesome food, and learned how much I really didn't know! The variety of classes, diversity of instructors, and the beautiful location made this a wise investment of time and monies. Thanks Rutabaga!
Prior to the Door County Sea Kayaking Symposium, my son and I were very comfortable kayaking on rivers. However, we wanted to improve our knowledge and skill-set in anticipation of some multi-day sea kayaking adventures on the Great Lakes. The DCSKS provided one-stop shopping for paddling instruction and experience that filled those gaps. We were able to select classes that targeted our specific needs and then practice in "real-life" water/weather conditions. A couple tours gave us a break from the instructional sessions, but still allowed us to continue to practice our skills in a fun and realistic setting. The instructors and guides were extremely friendly, competent, and helpful and we were very impressed with the level of organization and coordination that the staff exhibited. In addition, we were able to meet, interact, and socialize with new acquaintances who shared our interests. The DCSKS was a highlight of our summer.
I’m a fairly confident paddler - in a canoe. My partner and I have done Quetico trips for years. Last summer, he decided we should check out the Apostle Islands. In kayaks, of course. I decided I better learn something about kayaking.
The Symposium was perfect. I learned how to control my boat, about necessary gear and fun gear, how to get back in after a spill and how to help my partner get back in his boat. More importantly, I got comfortable in wind and waves and cold water. I also met some really great people, ate great food and had a lot of fun. The delicious shared meals help create a great sense of community in a really short time. I also loved the individualized instruction.
I want to bring the whole family back next summer.
Jim and Kathy
Five years ago Kathy and I decided that we would buy each other kayaks for our 30th anniversary. We went to Canoecopia, got lots of advice and purchased 2 kayaks. Mine was a hybrid fishing kayak and hers was a sea kayak.
After 4 years of paddling inland lakes and rivers we went to try the Lake Superior sea caves. It was a stormy day and the Ranger suggested very clearly that we were not properly outfitted or trained for big water. We went to the ice caves last winter and immediately started planning how we would expand our equipment and knowledge to go back and paddle to them.
At the following Canoecopia I purchased a Pygmy sea kayak kit, lots of new equipment, and we signed up for the Door County Symposium. With my work cut out for me I finished the kit with less than a week to spare and we headed to Door County.
The classes were taught by excellent instructors and an attitude of intense learning combined with skill testing trips, and there was great food and beer! We left feeling comfortable with our greatly improved skills, made our trip to the sea caves, as well as additional trips out on the big lakes, and made a few new friends along the way.
You really don’t realize until you take a class like this how important technique is to your enjoyment of kayaking!
First off, I have to admit that I’d never been in a sea kayak before last summer’s Symposium. I was worried about a couple of things before I signed up: How would a short chubby woman fit into a tiny sea kayak cockpit?; I wouldn’t know anyone there; Would people laugh at how I get in and out of a kayak, or at my lack of experience? BUT, I figured where else would I have the chance to learn so much about kayaking and get to paddle on “big” water. So I signed up.
Well...I’m here to tell you that none of my worries came true!! I got lost on the way check-in, so a really nice man greeted me like an old friend and offered me a root beer at the big White Tent. (Turned out he is the owner of Rutabaga.) Within 2 minutes of arriving at my “pen” location the first morning, I met a set of delightful women who would keep me laughing for the next several days. People did laugh at me...or rather with me. For example: The instructors asked if I had ever done a wet exit. I asked if they meant on purpose? They said yes. I’m like…are you kidding…who would do that? I’ve only ended in the water by accident. With a shake of their heads and a laugh, they pointed to join the group on the left.
You have to be able to do the scary wet exit so that you can go on the tours. However, to get you through it...you have your own personal instructor standing next to your kayak providing encouragement when you just can’t seem to get your body to flip the kayak. AND...when you do pop out of the water...the rest of the class is there to clap and cheer you on. It’s as if you just won an Olympic event. Also, short chubby women can rent a well fitting kayak. The staff really don’t mind it if you say..."could I try another one?"
These 3 days were like a wonderful adult summer camp!! On the way home that Sunday, I stopped by the Wagon Trail Campground and made my 2015 Yurt reservation. Hope to see you next year.
I am new to kayaking. I needed to learn a lot and someone recommended the DCSKS. I was a little bit apprehensive at first, but when the classes started that was gone immediately. The knowledgeable teachers had some great tricks to help learn and remember different techniques. I was learning and enjoying so much that the time just flew by way too fast and it was time to go home. I couldn't wait to tell my friends at home the new things I had learned. I even taught some seasoned kayakers some new tricks!
"I developed a new level of confidence. I never thought I could do this..."
"The best part about the symposium was being in a community of paddlers in a supportive atmosphere. I prefer solo paddling and getting away from the crowds but I was touched deeply by the positive energy of so many leave-no-trace, silent sports people."