Many new to paddling sports like kayaking start out alone. Without a great deal of knowledge, they buy a kayak at Walmart or Bass Pro Shops and head out to a nearby lake or river to give it a try. Kayaking, however, isn’t always safe or fun to do alone.
Kayaking groups provide the benefit of community with other paddlers who are open to building new friendships with like-minded paddlers who have an interest in safety, education, competitions, exploration, leisurely paddles, stewardship opportunities, and motivating others.
Let’s look at how kayaking groups can benefit you personally.
Benefits of Community
There are times when paddling alone is great. Those peaceful times when we break free from our hectic pace and relax, but we don’t want to be alone all the time. We are all hardwired for connection.
This is where kayaking groups come in, especially if we don’t have other friends or family that kayak. Shared experiences with others provides fun and promotes bonding and friendship.
I’m in my fifties and have been paddling most of my life. I learn new things from others about paddling, nature, and life all the time. A life well lived is full of constant learning.
Learning from Fellow Kayakers: Kayakers in a group will have a variety of skill levels, they come from various walks of life, and they have gear that is different from yours. All of these people have information you can learn from and teaching others helps you learn that much more. No one is beyond learning from others.
Classes for Leaning: Kayaking groups often provide classes for improving skills and knowledge of safety and rescue.
Things you might learn about in a class held by a kayaking group:
- Fundamentals of kayaking
- Proper strokes and paddling technique
- Edging and bracing
- Wet exits and re-entry
- How to roll a kayak
- Self and assisted rescues
- Water safety
- Rescue techniques
- CPR and first aid training
- Whitewater skills
- How to read the water
- Trip planning
Participating in a kayak group provides the opportunity to learn new skills and enhance the ones you have through hands-on experience and kayak lessons.
Kayaking groups have safety benefits beyond just education.
Kayaking alone can present a number of dangers. A paddle group inherently provides a buddy system for staying safe on the water.
All sorts of things can happen… swamping your kayak far from shore, loss of essential gear, snake bite, injury, or personal attack by another person to name a few.
I lost the keys to my truck in a river one time. They fell out of my dry bag when I opened it. Silly mistake but I definitely needed help to overcome my blunder.
There is safety in numbers. Tragedy can easily be averted when you have a kayaking buddy system in place to help in time of need.
A kayak group is a great motivator for:
- Improving physical stamina.
- Getting out of bed on those lazy Saturday mornings.
- Improving knowledge, skills, communication, and planning.
- Entering competitions and taking part in explorations.
Benefits of Exploration
I’m a creature of habit. I often stick to my favorite kayaking spots and paddling routes. Groups can break us out of our comfort zone and allow us to explore.
Groups introduce us to new paddling spots that provide experiences we would never have otherwise. They also open our eyes to new attractions along our standard routes like a preferred beach to stop for lunch, a river offshoot with a waterfall, an abandoned ship, or wildlife.
Benefits of Kayak Competitions
Groups occasionally offer kayak competitions or participate in paddle competitions.
Competitions build our skills, improve comradery, and introduce us to fellow paddlers who we might not have met otherwise.
If that doesn’t sell you on a kayak competition, they are just plain fun!
Benefits of Stewardship Opportunities
Environmental stewardship opportunities are my favorite. It may be the simple act of recycling your kayaking gear or my favorite water and shoreline cleanup opportunities.
It is irritating that people could treat our natural resources so poorly. Imagine what could be accomplished if everyone picked up a little trash each time they went out on the water.
Benefits of Online-Only Kayaking Groups
There are many online community kayak groups that only have an online presence. These groups offer both knowledge and online friendships.
Examples of these would be a group dedicated to a particular make of kayak or a specialty area of kayaking. The Sea Eagle Kayak Owners and Kayak Fishing – Group are two of my Facebook groups that come to mind.
Kayaking groups whether large or small provide benefits of community. I have primarily touched on groups that meet in person, but there are great benefits to groups that only have an online presence.
The greatest benefits of a kayaking group are community, safety, education, competitions, exploration, leisurely paddles, stewardship opportunities, and motivating others.
Of these, which might benefit you most? I’d like to hear from you in the comments below. Your skill level and interests will often determine the answer.
You might even look back at it later with a clear vision of which one was best. Friendship through community was mine. I met my wife through a Meetup.com group that went paddling on the Harpeth River in Tennessee.