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.