Sea Kayakers Trained to Guide Tours, Teach Skills in UMD Instructor Course

Coordinators say with more people trying new outdoor activities lately, the demand for more experienced guides is growing.

DULUTH, Minn.- While many people are anxious to get out and hit the water for fun as summer heats up, some are excited to lead others through sea and coastal kayaking tours throughout the Northland.

It’s the last day of the UMD kayaking course off Park Point. But these students are hoping to become teachers, and help guide people sea kayaking in the future.

“Today, instructor candidates are teaching a variety of strokes and rescues and getting evaluated on teaching and paddling skills,” said Melody David-McKnight, Sea Kayak Coordinator for the UMD Rec Sports Outdoor Program.

The seven students might soon be leading sea kayaking groups around the Northland, after going through training on strokes and rescues, including self-rescues and how to teach others.

“I recommend that people learn how to assist rescues as well as self-rescues and be proficient in both,” David-McKnight said.

“You need to be able to get your chest up onto your boat, and then you can wiggle around into your kayak, to be able to roll. So if you tip over, use your paddle to get right back up again without even leaving your boat,” she said.

Coordinators say with more people trying new outdoor activities lately, the demand for more experienced guides is growing.

“As we saw yesterday, the lake can change like *that*,” said David-McKnight. “It can go from calm to 20 knot winds and waves.”

“And so having the skills to rescue, having solid paddling skills is really important for staying safe on the water. And being with somebody who knows how to do those rescues if you don’t have these skills yet,” she said.

With The Level Three Coastal Kayaking Certification, UMD sea kayaking instructors can guide in a variety of places locally, nationally and internationally.

“I’m gonna lead Apostle Island trips this summer,” instructor candidate Hannah Holmberg said. “I’ll be leading people around the islands which will be a vibe, so I’m ready for that.”

Holmberg says she’s grown a lot through the course. Once overwhelmed by the Lake Superior’s tidal currents — now she’s excited for the adventure.

“Toughest and most fun definitely go hand-in-hand — so I’d say yesterday we had about 2 to 2.5 ft waves and that was probably the toughest and most fun conditions I’ve been,” said Holmberg.

She enjoys how unlike recreational kayaking, sea kayaking forces instructors to think and really understand what they’re paddling through.

“At least from my standpoint as like becoming an instructor and taking people out, you learn so much about the water and like the conditions are just so much different,” Holmberg said.

“So you just enhance your skills and I think that’s different from rec kayaking and just getting where you’re gonna get,” she said.

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