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Kayaking great way to explore outdoors

Students learn skills necessary to negotiate the open water during recent kayaking course at Kimbro Pool

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:44PM February 21st, 2013

When the Casanova Family moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord last May, the Georgia natives wanted to get familiar with their new outdoor surroundings.

During the past nine months the Army Family has attended five guided trips with the Northwest Adventure Center, exploring snowy terrain on snowshoes and cross-country skis. Soon the family of four will be able to explore the water scene of the Pacific Northwest, but before they jump in their kayaks on the Puget Sound, Army spouse Sherry Casanova wants to be sure the Family is prepared.

Sherry and her teenage daughters, Victoria and Kasey Casanova, were among a group of six participating in the NAC’s after-work kayak skills class Feb. 13 at Kimbro Pool.

“We go out a lot of times with guides, but we want them to be able to do it on their own before we take them out on the Sound,” Sherry Casanova said.

Robert Conrad, NAC adventure programmer, led the two-hour evening class. Before they dropped their kayaks into the pool, Conrad went over the required and optional gear for kayaks and basic paddle strokes. The kayakers also learned how to do buddy rescues, as well as self rescues.

“If you can’t rescue yourself, you can’t rescue a buddy,” Conrad said.

The NAC offers the indoor class once a year, but private skills classes can be scheduled for five or more people. During the summer the NAC offers the kayak skills class outdoors.

Pamela Fick, a Soldier with the 42nd Military Police Brigade, has kayaked on calm water. She knows the NAC plans excursions on the river and wanted to learn basic skills before venturing out.

“I want to do that but I want to know what I’m getting into,” she said.

While the NAC guides plan kayak outings starting in April, the center also rents out kayaks for independent adventure seekers. But there are times when novice outdoorsmen rent gear and don’t know how to use it or what to do with it.

“We just want to equip people,” Conrad said.

The NAC recently guided a kayak trip when a storm came in, dropping temperatures and bringing with it the danger of hyperthermia. In those instances it’s important to be prepared, Conrad said.

The NAC’s first kayak trip of the year is April 21 at Hope Island. It’s a six-mile paddle to the island’s beaches and tide pools. and offers a chance to see wildlife. Another outing is May 5, a seven-mile paddle from Boston Harbor to downtown Olympia. Pre-registration is required for each trip at the NAC or McChord Field’s Adventures Unlimited.

To learn more

Northwest Adventure Center: 967-8282 Adventures Unlimited: 982-2206

For more photos, visit nwguardian.com/multimedia