This photo was taken on the deck of the lovely Gaston Visitors Center, overlooking the White River, and Bull Shoals Dam. It shows some of the participants having their brown bag lunch, after a morning of classroom teaching on paddling basics.
From the Gaston Visitor Center, the 11 folks in the group caravaned to Brown's Beach on Bull Shoals Lake, to begin our in-water training of kayak basics. All the kayaks were furnished by Bull Shoals/White River State Park, and were included (along with paddles and lifejackets) in the $30 fee for the all-day clinic.
The park is fortunate to have an ACA-certified (American Canoe Association) instructor (named Julie) who taught the class, with the assistance of other park staff.
In this group of photos, Julie is seen demonstrating how to lift one's kayak, and carry it, in a way that reduces the chance of back injury/strains.
In this group of photos, Julie is demonstrating how to get into, and out of, one's kayak, using the "3 point" system, for stability.
This group of photos shows the "Boat Over" procedures, when someone in the kayaking group turns over, falling into the water, and causes their boat to be upside down in the water. Julie, along with participant Betty, demonstrated how the boat could properly be restored to upright, and the wet kayaker could be assisted back into their kayak.
Another possible scenario we learned about, was how to get the boat to shore, if the above procedure fails.
Julie also demonstrated how one person could re-enter their kayak from the water, without assistance from a helper.
Julie taught us the proper placement for our hands on the paddle, by reminding us our elbows should be at right angles to our paddles.
We also learned how to do several different types of paddle strokes, and were able to practice these strokes in the calmer waters at the back of the cove.
Brown's Beach is an excellent starting place for kayakers, as it has a paved loading ramp, with access to a quiet cove, or the entire lake. There is also a restroom near the launch ramp.
After the "intense" training was over, Julie threw the contents from a big mesh bag of colored balls, into the water. The purpose of the game was to see who could gather up the most balls. (Tip: being at the end of the cove is a huge advantage, as all the balls float toward you instead of away from you!)
The goal of the game was to get us to use all the different paddle strokes Julie had taught us, in order to maneuver our kayak into position for picking up the balls.
The competition was "nose to nose", but after a short time, all the balls were gathered up, and prizes awarded.
This game could be adapted for YOUR next outing on the water, for a fun way to get some paddling experience!
It was a delightful day to be at Bull Shoals Lake, and I saw lots of smiles from the gals and guys who were able to attend!
This photo was taken from the back of the cove, looking out into the broader lake body. Of course, the closer your kayak gets to the main lake, the rougher the water becomes.
I was giving thanks to God, as I remembered his promise to me ( as stated in Isaiah 43:2 ): "When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."
Although most of the participants were people I met for the first time on the day of the clinic, I was glad to see my friend, Karen, that I knew from the Women Hiking the Ozarks (W.H.O.) group.
When the clinic was finished, those who wanted to, could enjoy the "sand and surf" of the adjacent swim area of Brown's Beach. If you are interested at trying out the sport of kayaking, rental boats are available at several Arkansas State Parks. Likewise, training clinics are offered regularly at some of the parks, and Lake Ouachita State Park offers some overnight kayak outings. For more information, just visit www.ArkansasStateParks.comA day on the water will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia (Note: I have written several articles about kayaking in various locations in Arkansas, and out of state, that you can see
, if desired, by entering the word "kayak" in the search box, at the bottom of this blog.)