BURTON — It’s often said that if you don’t have a paddle, you’re up a creek.
For women wanting to learn about outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and the shooting sports, they often feel like they are up the creek without a paddle because of lack of knowledge.
That’s where Camo and Lace comes into the play. The organization offers all sorts of outdoor instruction for women, taught mainly by women, to take the anxiety out of the equation.
A free Kayaking 101 course offered area women just that kind of tension-free quality instruction at Kelly Lake Park in Burton where a group of volunteers led by PJ Wallace of Camo and Lace provided the kayaks, the paddles and the safe learning environment. About 10 women took part in one session at 1 p.m. first testing out the different types of kayaks that varied in length, seat size, back support and seat opening. All were instructed to sit in each kayak to evaluate which they found to their liking. Many were surprised at the vast differences, with some providing a tight fit, others had a cup holder between the knees and some offered no “in cabin” seating, rather a molded “on top” seat platform that placed them higher above the water.
Several women worried about the rocking motion on dry land, but instructor Stan Orlowski explained, “They’re all going to rock back and forth on dry land. Once you enter the water, the only rocking motion will be created by you as you paddle. That’s why it’s important to try out each kayak.”
Orlowski noted that the longer kayaks offer a more straight forward adventure, while the shorter kayaks offer more maneuverability and a tighter turning radius in the water. That’s key for river trips or in competitions.
One first-time kayaker quipped, asking that we not use her name, “I knew I’d look like a cow trying to get into this thing.”
The steady hands of the volunteers assured her that she was doing just fine as she first tried the feet-first entry, then decided simply squatting down onto the seat platform on one of the raised kayaks was the better option. The big smile on her face as she glided out onto Kelly Lake proved that how she entered the kayak was just the first step to her new freedom on the water.
Wallace noted, “The whole experience is to ease the fear about the water, about kayaks and their safety and to just give the women a chance to feel how the kayaks pick up and move around, how to properly enter one, and to just give them the confidence to enter the water on their own.”
Linda Scheidler of Otisville, a conservation officer and board member of Camo and Lace was helping Amanda Zecchini, 14, of Davison, who she brought to the event. The two skimmed across the lake not a care in the world. Zecchini took one tentative look backwards as she was pushed off the launch beach into the water, but as she steadied herself and began to paddle, she too wore a giant smile.
To learn more about Camo and Lace and its offerings log on to www.camoandlace.net