Kayak beginners take safety class

Karen Foster, 48, of Parkersburg, paddles her way along the Muskingum River during the Kayaking 101 class on Wednesday. (Photo by Peyton Neely)

MARIETTA — Summertime is the busiest time for the rivers found throughout our area. Kayaking has became more and more popular and following the right water safety is important no matter how much you think you know about the recreational water activity.

Jess Rhodes, kayaking guide and specialist for the Marietta Adventure Company, offered a Kayaking 101 class on Wednesday and residents flocked to an opportunity to educate themselves about the popular summer sport.

“There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm in this town for people to try new things and it’s incredible,” she said. “It’s awesome that we are able to offer this class and the goal is to try this again at a better time for people.”

Rhodes taught eager beginners about the different strokes, parts of a kayak, and parts of the paddle. She also went over the right ways to enter and exit a kayak along with water safety.

Although Rhodes said she hasn’t scheduled another Kayaking 101 class for the summer, she said she’s always open to teaching anyone about the sport. Rhodes and Marietta Adventure Company have several guided kayaking trips planned for the remainder of the summer. A lot of the events can be found on their Facebook page or on their website at mariettaadventurecompany.com.

“The biggest challenge for beginners is getting used to the kayak during the first few minutes they’re inside the kayak,” she said. “They need to remember to stay calm so they don’t tip as much. Let your body sort of go with the flow of the water and you’ll be more than OK.”

Participants were cautioned to steer clear of river traffic and try to avoid getting hung up along the river’s bank. All were told to wear a lifejacket.

People of all ages joined Rhodes to explore the Muskingum River Wednesday. Parkersburg resident Karen Foster, 48, decided to give kayaking a chance with her co-worker Mindi Geouge, 48, also of Parkersburg.

“I sent her the link to do this when we found it on Facebook,” said Geouge. “I’ve been kayaking for about two years but there’s always something new to learn.”

Foster said that she’s always had an interest in the water activity.

“I decided taking one of these classes would be my best option,” she said. “I feel like after this class, I’ll want to go out and buy my own kayak and continue to do it. I was really interested in learning more about kayaking which is why I’m here.”

“My best advice for anyone wanting to learn how to kayak is to take it step-by-step, relax, and have fun,” she said.