Paddling furiously — left, right, left, right — eight kids in kayaks surged toward the orange disc floating on Goss Lake.
Each stroke was another bit of improvement for the students in the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation’s first kayak camp.
Even the thuds when the fiberglass and plastic boats bumped into each other was smile-inducing for instructor Jiggs Bryan and his boss Ed Young, owner of Whidbey Island Kayaking Company.
“A couple of the boys were very timid and not into the idea of getting into the water,” said Bryan, a Bellingham resident who has led tours for Young over the past few summers.
The kayak campers started Monday learning how to put on a personal flotation device, kayaking terms and basic strokes. As the five-day course continued, the kayak kids learned reverse and draw strokes and how to self-rescue. Spilling from the cockpit and into the w
ater was a real turning point for the campers, their instructor said.
“Realizing they could self-rescue opened their eyes,” said Bryan.
Getting the young kayakers, ages 12 to 17, to rely on muscle memory and instinct was the next step. On the fourth day of camp Aug. 8, the kayakers played kayak Frisbee. The game is like ultimate Frisbee, only in a kayak that never truly stopped on water.
Clinton resident Nathan Lux, 16, scored the first goal of the day on a short toss, triumphantly thrusting his paddle above his head after the score. Laurence Boado, 13, of Coupeville followed soon after with a goal.
The parks camp was a partnership with Young’s Langley-based company, which operates kayak tours around Whidbey Island. Young had a couple of goals in mind with the camp: teach children to kayak who may one day become customers of his or instructors and guides for his company.
“Finding guides on the island is really tough to do,” Young said.