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Paddling programs on tap for June, July and August

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Summer is around the corner, the weather is improving and the Forest Preserve District is offering a boatload of kayaking programs this year for newbies and advanced paddlers alike.

The programs fill up fast, so register online on the Event Calendar for the kayaking program that suits your interests. (See the lineup below.)

“People love kayaking for a variety of reasons,” said Angie Trobaugh, facility supervisor at Hidden Oaks Nature Center. “It’s easy, takes place outdoors, provides exercise, and you are able to be as social as you would like.”

And it's a great way to connect to nature, Trobaugh added, because you can see all kinds of wildlife – including fish, turtles, birds, snakes, flowers and dragonflies – from a new perspective.

Joining a Forest Preserve program is a good way for people to try kayaking in a controlled environment on either a lake or a river. 

“Sometimes people are intimidated and a bit frightened by the water and the possibility of going in,” Trobaugh said. “But they feel reassured by going out with experienced certified instructors.”

The Forest Preserve provides everything needed for people to try out kayaking including paddles, boats and personal flotation devices. Only one program requires participants to bring their own boats. 

Here are the kayaking programs planned for the next few months. Additional details and registration information are available on the Event Calendar

Whalon Lake, Naperville:

  • Kayak Kollege, 4-6 p.m. Saturday, June 18 
  • Paddle and Campfire, 7-9 p.m. Saturday, June 18
  • Kayak Kollege, 4-6 p.m. Friday, July 8
  • Paddle and Pinot, 7-9 p.m. Friday, July 8
  • Shooting Star Perseids Paddle, 7-9 p.m. Aug. 12
  • Summer Send-off Paddle, 6-9 p.m. Aug. 27

McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove, Channahon:

  • Kayak Kollege, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, June 18
  • Kayak Kollege, 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, July 2 
  • Birding by Boat, 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
  • Sunset Paddle, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10
  • Kayak Kollege, 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 27

Monee Reservoir, Monee Township:

  • Kayak Kollege, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 25
  • Kayak Kollege, 3-5 p.m. Saturday, July 16
  • Kayak Kollege, 3-5 p.m. Aug. 13
  • Sunset Paddle, 7-10 p.m. Aug. 13

Rock Run Rookery Preserve, Joliet:

  • Evening Paddle – Bring Your Own Boat, 6-8 p.m. Friday, July 22

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Stay safe on the water

Everyone should take an instructional course, or a Kayak Kollege, to get started in the sport, Trobaugh said. 

“There are so many basic things people tend to overlook when they go out on the water that could easily be addressed if they were just made aware,” she explained. “Paddling is as safe as you make it.”

And Suzy Lyttle, a Forest Preserve program coordinator, urges everyone to wear a PFD while paddling on their own, even if water conditions appear calm and you consider yourself a strong swimmer.

“Statistics show things can take a turn for the worse without a PFD,” Lyttle said. “Anything can happen in an instant and many don’t realize that. If you find your PFD is bulky and uncomfortable, look for a new one. They make so many different styles and ones better suited for the movement of kayakers.”

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