Before taking my Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructor Course with Ontario Sea Kayak Centre, my coach Dympna had asked me to attend the Women on Water Paddling Festival.  I had no idea what this festival was all about and had not heard of it until she’d mentioned it.

I did a bit of research and it looked like a really cool weekend that had been created by Wild Women Expeditions and Ontario Sea Kayak Center, for women to come and spend a weekend on the water learning some skills and having fun.  I was intrigued to say the least.

As I continued on looking though the instructor list and organizers, I found I knew some of the ladies who would be attending that weekend.  Even though I did not receive my full Level 1 Instructor Certification, I did receive my Basic Kayak Instructor Certificate, so Dympna still wanted me to attend. She wanted me to shadow some of the instructors and see what the event was all about and I was very happy that I had agreed to go.

Upon arrival at Camp Tapawingo on Friday at 4pm, I unloaded my kayak with the help of some lovely women I didn’t know as yet.   I then went to say hi to Kate who was busy registering ladies. I took a few pics and  proceeded to my assigned cabin.  I was bunking with the instructors and felt quite honored.

Next, I went out with my selfie stick and took some photos and videos of the location and even interviewed a few ladies that were sunning themselves on the dock, Helen, Joanne, Sally and Lori.

As the hours went by, more and more equipment was unloaded. There were kayaks everywhere, Sup’s, canoes, paddles, pfd’s, anything one would need to spend a weekend on the water. I assisted as best as I could and met as many people as possible.

After most of the set up was done, I went for a little walk about.  I came across a lovely woman sitting alone and introduced myself. I commented on her cool pinky purply hair colour in her bangs and asked if I could sit down beside her.  She agreed and told me she had colored her hair for the weekend to show she was indeed a wild woman!! How cute!  I adored her!  Her name is Eileen and she was lovely.

Eileen & myself later on that day.

She went on a trip with Wild Women Expeditions and loved it so she thought she would give the WOW event a try.  While we chatted a lady came over named Helen who was on that trip she took and they got reacquainted while I slipped off to do some more exploring and offer help to anyone that needed it.

A few of us headed out to get some dinner and when we came back we listened to the announcements in the dining hall, followed by a camp fire sing along.  The amazing Jennifer Holub was performing and she was awesome! She told jokes and sang like an angel and everyone sat around the fire mesmerized by her, clapping and singing along.  I could already tell this was going to be an epic weekend!

The sing along went until around 10pm. Some stayed by the fire, some got ready for bed. We sat in the instructors cabin in the screened in porch hiding from the bugs which had gotten quite pesky and learned a bit more about each other.  After a bit I snuck out to get a shot of the full moon.

Soon afterwards, we headed to bed, knowing we would have a busy day to follow tomorrow.

I woke up at 5:30 am to use the facilities and went down to the beach for a few photos.

Then I went back to bed to catch a few more z’s before heading to Magda’s yoga class at 7am.  I had never been to a yoga class and was pretty impressed with it. The room was packed and I felt relaxed shortly after arriving, but sadly, it was over before I knew it and it was time to get breakfast and then get out on the water.

I would be shadowing a woman named Kris Shaw who is an experienced instructor.  I had met Kris while unloading kayaks yesterday and was anxious to learn from her.  She would be instructing with Sue, who had also been teaching a long time.  I was quite happy to see my friend Eileen from yesterday in my group.

Kris and Sue went over quite a few things to start. We did introductions and I did my very best to remember everyone’s names.  Then Kris went over the safety items required if you are paddling a kayak, the parts of the kayak, skirts, paddles and how to adjust the foot pegs.  Everyone was asked to get into their assigned kayaks and set their foot pegs and ensure they were ready to hit the water.  With a large group this took a bit of time but soon we were all ready and carrying the kayaks to the shore to try getting into them properly, another lesson covered by Kris earlier on.

Soon, we were on the water and teaching skills. It was great to be able to help people learn and I assisted whenever possible. I was actually really enjoying it and some of the women came to me regularly and asked me questions and for help.  It was pretty awesome and the time on the water went by very quickly.

The afternoon began with us teaching the ladies wet exits.  I know that many people in general hate this activity and are scared of being under water, upside down, in a kayak and think they will get stuck in there.  I had the great privileged of assisting many of my new friends in their wet exits and I couldn’t have been prouder of them.

I was quite honored that my new friend Eileen decided to give it a try and asked for me to help her with it.  She came through it like a champ and I was so happy to be there for her and flattered she let me assist her.

The word of the weekend for me, definitely was rewarding.  Thanks so much to Eileen for letting me post these photos of her wet exit and for letting me help her through this challenging skill and to Liza for taking the photos for me while I was instructing.   It was my pleasure to assist you.

There were a few other groups of ladies also taking a kayaking course,but some were taking stand up paddle boarding classes, some were taking canoeing classes and some were doing yoga.  As I was shadowing the kayaking course, I didn’t get many photos of the other activities. Thankfully, a few of the ladies sent me some of their photos to post so you can also get a glimpse into other activities that were going on.

Magda was teaching Yoga and making mala’s.

Savasana Yoga with Magda

Making mala’s with Magda

There were sup classes going on, some with yoga as well.

Photo by Kate Wannan, thank you!

Photo by Joanne Mulder, thank you!

And there was also canoe classes which looked like a lot of fun! I wish I could’ve taken all the classes.

Photo by Kate Wannan, thank you!

Photo by Pat Tenant! Thank you!

After our classes were done, we put the kayaks back up on the shore and checked out the vendors.  White Squall had a tent set up the entire weekend and Paula and Emily were awesome, answering questions and helping people find the right gear. Blue Wave Sup was beside them as well and the ladies there were also totally incredible.

After talking to the outside vendors, I headed to the marketplace in the entertainment cabin to do some shopping and check out the silent auction.  There were vendors set up selling stained glass items, jewelry, soaps and lotions, clothing and even some gear.  The silent auction had a large variety of items open for bidding, with all proceeds going to the Georgian Bay Biosphere, an organization I loved as they helped take care of the areas I really enjoy paddling in.  I actually donated a weekend camping trip with Camper Christina and hoped and prayed someone would bid on it.

The vendors at the Marketplace were Cathy and Bonnie from Spiral Stained Glass, Emily from Hemp Tent Eco Boutique, Michelle from A Candle Occasion and Holly from Gypsea’s Lifestyle Boutique.  Also, Angela Montin had a table promoting meditation classes.

After we shopped and bidded, we headed to the dining hall for a yummy dinner, chicken, baked potato and a variety of salads. All the food so far had been great and the staff at Camp Tapawingo were truly awesome.  Once we finished our dinners we headed off to the instructor cabin to get dressed for the lip syncing event.  We were assigned a song via email and I had practiced quite a bit the last few days in hopes of entertaining everyone, which I believe we did.  Although, I was not given permission to post the video, here are a few photos I did have permission to share.

All I can say was, you had to be there. The presentations were totally off the hook and I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life! Everyone did an incredible job and if that wasn’t enough, the lip syncing was followed by a hoola hoop contest which I sadly did not win, but did pretty good in, I think?

The evening was completed with dancing and more laughter and I was so happy that I had decided to come to this event.  It was full of amazingly awesome women and I was honored to be a part of it.  We stayed up way too late for the day we had, mandatory for being at camp, and headed to bed around midnight, exhausted but still smiling.  Oh, and by the way, someone did bid on my weekend camping trip, quite generously, I will add, thank you!!   and I will be taking that lovely woman on a trip with me this summer,  so stay tuned for that post. I am pretty sure it will be an awesome adventure!

I missed morning yoga on the Sunday as I had been up most of the night with tummy troubles but made it to breakfast on time for announcements.  Dympna advised us that we had raised $1926 for the Georgian Bay Biosphere which made me very proud. She also went over some scheduling information for the day, announced that the annual photo would be taken at lunch and wishes us a great day.

Following the announcements I did a great interview with Kate, that I ended up not recording somehow? 🙁   (I’m still kicking myself over this one – so so sorry Kate).  But above is the photo that I managed to take during our interview.  Kate advised me that there were over 100 women at the event this year which was including instructors and it continues to grow each year.  She told me that this event was created to give women a safe place to come and learn with other women and enjoy a weekend of camaraderie and laughter.

I personally think what Kate and Dympna do is quite extraordinary and special and I am so grateful that there are wonderful women like them in the world creating events such as these.  Well done ladies and thank you for letting me share in your event!

After breakfast the three kayak groups combined to take a tour of Candle Lake and do some exploring.  Some of the ladies were nervous going out on the water but eased into it and ended up having a great time. We had been blessed with another lovely day with lots of sun but the wind was a little challenging for new paddlers, so we cut our trip a bit short and headed back for lunch and our group photo.

After lunch we practiced rescues and even though the group was small, it was mighty! I learned more than I thought I could and found out that I really enjoy helping others learn more about a sport that I am totally in love with.  As we were in and out of the water during the afternoon, I left my photo taking devices on shore, but below is a photo taken of the entire group from lunch consisting of a lot of amazing wild women!

I hope you enjoyed my post and I have inspired you to get out there and follow your passions.  If you have any questions, comments or just want to say hi, please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I am able to.

Stay tuned for the video on this post coming to my you tube channel on Thursday as well as lots of cool posts coming up!

Happy Summering!

Camper Christina