The beaver waddled up out of the lake to investigate lakeside vegetation for breakfast. He poked around and nibbled on a few green strands before slipping back in to the water. It paddled along the shore for several yards before climbing out for a second helping. I observed the beaver in great detail as if I was only a few feet away — actually I was. Sitting quietly in my kayak, taking in the early morning scene, on a glass-like lake surface, with the beaver paying no attention to me. Just moments before, I was sipping coffee while nudging the campfire. I spotted the beaver, slipped on the water shoes and slid the kayak off the lake shore, just a few steps from the campsite.
Paddle sports (kayaking and canoeing) continue to attract campers of all ages. Today, kayaks lying around next to tents and RVs are common sights at campgrounds. A study performed by the Outdoor Industry Association a couple years past, revealed the gain in paddling's popularity. According to that report, kayaking and canoeing had increased in participation by 4.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively. Camping waterside while doing an overnight paddle trip is nothing new, but for a growing number of campers, paddling sports gives the "travel by land" camper an extra activity to enjoy.
While most families and individuals focus their recreational budgets, it becomes clear that paddle sports are affordable. If a kayak is not in the budget, the option to rent one is possible at most marinas, parks and campgrounds. This gives the occasional paddler the opportunity for a dose of aqua fun, without spending a few hundred bucks. Renting a canoe or kayak is perfect for those wanting to take a test run before committing to ownership of one.
It doesn't take years to become skilled enough to maneuver a kayak or canoe safely. Paddling is commonly viewed to be a skilled activity for the agile athlete. Not so, but a couple of hours learning to "feel" the balance of a kayak will get you on your way. Begin in shallow water in case you turn over. You can simply stand up and try the maneuver again. Whether you take a cruise in a rental kayak or captain your own, the more time you spend on board, the more confidence you will gain. For most first time paddlers, it only takes an hour to realize how surprisingly stable the small crafts are — and how immensely enjoyable paddling is. You may soon spend more time paddling than sitting around the campfire.