Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another terrific Ladies of the Lake symposium

Ladies of the Lake is a unique symposium. Put on by Downwind Sports and sponsored by Impex and Werner Paddles, this all-female kayaking event features one day of local paddle tours, two days of instruction, a featured guest instructor, and a themed costume party complete with a raffle of gear generously donated by its host and sponsors.

Grand Rapids-based instructor Lori Stegmier teaching a class on edging and bracing.

Numerous other symposiums offer women's classes, but this is the only one we know of that is women-only. (It does, however, offer a "Man Camp" for partners and spouses, taught this year by Kelly Blades and Danny Mongno.)
There is something special about women-only classes. They tend to attract women who learn best in a supportive, all-female environment. Some are refugees from bad paddling relationships with men who have too much machismo. Some are looking for ways to improve their paddling that take into consideration female anatomy. Some are intimidated by men in mixed-gender classes. Some simply appreciate the camaraderie of gender-specific classes.
A women-only symposium offers a weekend of immersion in these benefits. Participants get to watch each other and help each other improve over time. They aren't embarrassed about how they look as they attempt to scramble back into their boats. They don't apologize for their lack of upper-body strength. They eagerly adopt strategies that emphasize technique over muscles.

In a rescue class, we teach the rescuer to wrap her body over the deck of boat. Strong men might get away with stabilizing the boat using only their arm strength, but that doesn't tend to work for many women.

The midwest is fortunate to have a remarkable group of female instructors who are dedicated to making the sport accessible to women of all ages and abilities. That's the spirit of Ladies of the Lake.

Chicago-based instructor Wendy Madgwick stands up for female kayakers everywhere.

1 comment:

David H. Johnston said...

It sounds like an awesome event. I find that teaching womans only clinics or courses instantly makes the day much more fun.

I love teaching them.

David J.