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Dust off your wet suits, kids, it’s time to roll

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Canoe Kids hear instruction poolside before entering the water.

  Melissa Lowrie
      Melissa Lowrie
Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
Photos by Melissa Lowrie
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Jonesing for the outdoors in the heart of winter pushed me to get creative.

While there’s nothing like a cool river on a hot day, we found a good alternative. After a bit of a hunt for bathing suits, the Canoe Kids headed to Dawsonville to prepare for the imminent summer.

The Outside World, aside from being a cool retail store, offers indoor kayaking classes for kids and adults of all levels in their indoor pool. For $25 per child, my son and a friend enjoyed an hour-long class in the climate controlled environment—gear included. It was a perfect winter treat.

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After some pool-side learning, it’s time to get wet.

The kids were in good hands with American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor Dan Schreiman. Our knowledgeable and patient teacher started from the top getting the kids suited up ... which was no small task: a wet suit topped with a dry suit top, life vest, spray skirt and helmet (arrive early to get in the gear).   

After matching kid-size to kayak, the kids sat in their boats on the side of the pool while Instructor Dan (he said he preferred “Instructor Dan” to “sir”) explained how to secure yourself into a kayak. The next lesson, an extremely important one, was the wet exit. Otherwise known as: getting out of the boat after it has flipped over.

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Jack Lowrie listens to instructions before attempting a wet exit.

I thought it a bit intimidating from where I sat at the side of the pool, but the kids were eager to try the new skill and promptly flipped and floated to the surface like sea otters. They also covered hip snaps while learning to use their lower half to control the kayak.

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Wet exit: check. It’s always good to be able to get out of an overturned kayak.   Mastering a hip snap will get your boat upright again.

Next came paddling; both kids had been exposed to kayaking and canoeing, but instruction from a pro is invaluable. By the end of the lesson they were playing Sharks and Minnows and looking like they needed a larger body of water to test their new skills.

The lessons are geared toward the student (or students’) skill level. Only one or two kids per class with one instructor makes for plenty of personal attention and a high safety level.

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A fun game of Sharks and Minnows ended the lesson.

Both kids enjoyed the lesson and are ready to schedule another. The Outside World also offers river classes on the Chestatee and Lake Lanier. My testers were 9 and 10 years old, and that’s about the youngest ages they can take. The age rises to 13 for the on-river lesson; check with the store for details.

Give Outside World a call or visit the website for class information (706-265-4500 or theoutsideworld.net). They are near the Varsity in Dawsonville at 471 Quill Drive.

Until the weather warms and we can get back in the lakes, rivers and pools, indoors will have to suffice. Find those bathing suits and gear up for some indoor instruction and fun. Wherever you end up with your Canoe Kids, have a great time.

 


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