Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why we still love the WMCKA Symposium

Thumbs up for the WMCKA symposium, one of the family friendliest paddling events in the midwest.
We have a special affection for the West Michigan Sea Kayakers Association (WMCKA) symposium. Held on Memorial Day weekend at YMCA Camp Pendalouan near Muskegon, Michigan, the WMCKA symposium is notable for:
  • World-class guest coaches/speakers. This year, Nick Cunliffe of Kayak Essentials in North Wales, will join the talented midwestern coaching staff and offer an evening presentation.
  • A huge assortment of on-land classes in the mornings. Participants can learn about navigation, weather, VHF radio use, dressing for paddling and many other essential topics.
  • An even larger assortment of on-water classes. From strokes and maneuvers to rescues and towing, the phalanx of dedicated coaches offer a myriad of courses for beginner through intermediate paddlers.
  • The beginners' track. Novice paddlers can comfortably start with courses on boat fit and wet exits, and quickly progress into courses on basic skills.
  • The kids' program. This popular program, for ages 7 to 14, helps kids build skills while playing games, and includes time on land doing summer camp activities with Camp Pendalouan's wonderful counselors.
  • BCU 3* training and assessment. Participants with intermediate skills can challenge themselves in Bonnie Perry's two-day training and opt to follow it with a one-day assessment.
  • Neptune's treasures. This pop-up consignment shop allows participants to buy and sell used gear, from wetsuits and PFDs to kayaks.
  • The sense of community. Everybody stays together at the camp, either in tents or small cabins, and eats together in the large dining hall. Evenings include speakers, parties and plenty of social time.
The dining hall. For a small fee, participants can take advantage of communal meals.
Big Blue Lake, where the on-water courses are held.
Now in its 24th year, the WMCKA Symposium is always adding something new to its offerings. This year, it is hosting a Coach Level 1 training and assessment May 21 through 21, immediately before the symposium begins.

This is the first symposium we attended--the symposium that set us on the path of long-term paddling and coaching. Registration is open, affordable, and limited to 170 participants (and 25 in the children's program). Sign up here.  

Communal (and free!) camping at Camp Pendalouan.

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