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Summer Paddling Program Launches with New Format

Photo for: Summer Paddling Program Launches with New Format

(Photo by Chad Merda)

Paddling programs being offered by the Forest Preserve District this summer will resume on July 21 with a new format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All participants will have to BYOB: bring your own boats, personal flotation devices and paddles.

The change is designed to keep participants and staff safe while still offering guided paddling tours that highlight the flora, fauna and history of Forest Preserve lakes. 

“Even with the ‘BYOB’ safety restrictions in place, we still felt it was important to offer paddling programs this summer because people appreciate the opportunity to paddle with others,” said interpretive naturalist Angie Opiola. “Paddling with ACA (American Canoe Association) certified instructors is an efficient way to become a better paddler yourself. You gain skill, experience and confidence.”

Also, people who sign up for the programs get a chance to ask, “What is this for? What does this do? Why does your kayak have that? Or, why is mine shaped this way?, etc.,” Opiola said. 

While boat and equipment rentals have resumed at Monee Reservoir and precautions are being taken to disinfect all rental equipment after each use, it would be more difficult to accomplish that during individual programs, Opiola said. 

“When you sign up for a program, it is up to the Forest Preserve to maintain the highest level of safety and responsibility," she explained. "So, we are implementing the highest level of precaution by requiring a ‘BYOB’ for each program.” 

Programs are open to paddlers ages 12 or older and cost $10 per person (unless otherwise noted in the descriptions below). Those ages 17 or younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Once you sign up by finding individual programs on the Event Calendar, remember to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a water bottle to each program and wear shoes and clothes that can get wet. 


Here are the July and August paddling programs:

Paddle the Preserves: Lake Chaminwood (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. July 21, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Get out for a relaxing paddle and learn about some of the lake’s history and its flora and fauna. Registration deadline: July 18.

Paddle the Preserves: Whalon Lake (Intermediate), two-hour sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. July 23, Whalon Lake. Learn a few paddling moves on shore, and then enjoy the preserve’s wildlife from a kayak. Registration deadline: July 21.

Kayak Kollege, 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 24, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. This workshop delves deeper into paddling strokes and helps participants refine their paddling skills for a more pleasurable kayaking experience. Registration deadline: July 23.

Bring Your Own Boat: Touring Rock Run Rookery (Intermediate), 10 a.m.-noon July 25, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Take a late morning tour to explore the animal life found at this preserve. Previous paddling experience is required. Registration deadline: July 23.

Quickstart Your Kayak Skills Course, 1-5 p.m. July 25, Monee Reservoir. Learn paddling basics, from what to wear and basic strokes to potential hazards and safety information. $40 per person. Registration deadline: July 24.

Paddle and Pinot, BYOB, 6-9 p.m. July 25, Monee Reservoir. Enjoy some adult time paddling the calm reservoir and watching the sun set in the summer sky. Bring your favorite bottle of wine for a post-paddling wine tasting on shore around a campfire. Ages 21 or older. Registration deadline: July 24.

Paddle the Preserves: Rock Run Rookery (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. August 1, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Paddle around the islands and inlets of the rookery. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: July 30. 

Birding by Boat, 9-11 a.m. August 8, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove. Paddle the confluence of the Des Plaines and DuPage rivers to spot birds and other wildlife. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: August 6. 

Paddle Whalon Lake, (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. August 22, Whalon Lake. Stretch out your paddling muscles as you explore the lake after learning basic paddling moves on shore. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: August 18. 


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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