I wouldn’t classify myself as adventurous so when Charlotte mentioned she had lined up a kayaking experience for me, I was a bit hesitant. The thought of me navigating a small watercraft with a paddle on the Chattahoochee River didn’t really excite me. I reluctantly agreed figuring my husband, two daughters ages 8 and 10, and I would give it a try and hopefully have some fun.
The evening of our 14th anniversary proved to be as good-a-time-as-any for our family kayaking lesson. We met our instructors, Dan and Kyle, at the Outside World Outfitters store on 1025 Broadway in Uptown Columbus. They sized-up the four of us to figure out which spray skirt and kayak would be a good fit. We were impressed that they had a kayak to fit our 8-year-old’s small frame. After the equipment was loaded up, we drove around the corner to Front Ave & 12th Street to meet back up with our instructors.
When we met up with Dan and Kyle they explained the following:
- The equipment needed for kayaking
- Which kayak is right for you.
- What to look for when choosing a kayak and paddle.
We slid into our spray skirts, which keeps the water out of the kayak, secured our life jackets, donned our helmets and headed down to the water.
Before we began paddling, we were taught what to do in the event that the kayak capsizes to include a wet exit. If your children are comfortable going under water and good with following instructions, they should have no trouble with this required safety activity. Dan and Kyle demonstrated and then helped each of us with the basic paddling strokes to move forward, backward, and turn.
By the end of our evening lesson, the six of us were racing around the cove area playing kayak tag and a variety of other games which helped with our technique. With Dan’s encouragement, my husband decided to follow him out of the cove to brave the whitewater. He made one attempt to ease into the rapids only to be booted back out in an upturned kayak about 15 seconds later. His wet exit practice came in handy. I think he wants to give it another try in the near future.
So what did my family think? Not only was this a good team-building activity for our family, it was a great opportunity for our girls. Being hands-on learners and a bit more adventurous than their mom, they soaked up every bit of instruction. Unlike sitting in a classroom and learning about an activity, they received real-time instruction and immediately put it to use right there on the water. We couldn’t have asked for better instructors. Dan and Kyle did an excellent job working with our girls. They provided an easygoing environment and were patient and encouraging. All the way back to our car Ashley (10) kept declaring how much fun she had. Both girls said they would like to try kayaking again.
If you’re looking for a new activity to try with your child(ren) or the whole family this summer, I highly recommend heading down to Outside World Outfitters and asking them about kayaking lessons for your crew. They also offer whitewater and flatwater lessons at their North Georgia location in Dawsonville, Georgia.
What to Know if You Go:
- Ages: Children are outfitted based on size, not age.
- Instructors: All instructors are ACA (American Canoe Association) certified.
- Cost: Flatwater lessons are $250 for up to 4 People (Note: cost is subject to change. See website.)
- Location: Columbus lessons are held in the Chattahoochee River just below the Wave Shaper in the cove area. The river is only two blocks from the store.
- Contact: call 706.322.4200 (Columbus) for class scheduling and reservations.