|Ladies of the Lake, the spirited midwestern all-women's symposium, begins shortly.|
- woman-specific paddling issues, such as having less upper-body strength and more upper-body bulk than most male paddlers (not to mention how to pee while on the water);
- woman-specific insecurities, such as dealing with a male paddling partner who is faster/stronger/bossier or has a different set of expectations for a day on the water;
- woman-specific strengths, including our ability to encourage one another while we overcome our fears and learn new skills.
Just because this is a women's symposium doesn't mean it isn't every bit as exciting and challenging as a mixed-gender symposium. We work on strokes, rolling, braces, navigation and incident-management, and if the surf's up, we go out and catch the waves. And just because it's a women's symposium doesn't mean we think we can only have this kind of fun with women. In fact, many of us instructors love paddling with men, learning from men, teaching men and even competing with men. We're sure the same is true of many of our students.
But there is something very powerful about gender camaraderie, especially for a gender that has historically been discouraged from pursuing physically challenging activities. And if registration numbers for this year's Ladies of the Lake symposium are any indication, the appeal of women-specific kayak classes is still strong.