Why Participate in a Kayak Symposium?
If you are an avid kayaker looking to improve his/her kayaking skills you should definitely consider participating in a kayak symposium. Symposiums are typically held over a three day or more period of time, allowing you to choose the classes you feel will help strengthen your skills. You will also receive awesome instruction by world renowned coaches. Further, you will meet a fantastic community of kayak enthusiasts from all over the world that share your passion and thirst for learning the essentials of kayaking. Finally, you will leave the symposium feeling more confident in your ability to handle a wide variety of kayaking scenarios.
I recently attended the three day 2022 Florida Gulf Coast International Sea Kayaking Symposium sponsored by Sweetwater Kayaks of St. Petersburg, Florida (www.sweetwaterkayaks.com) February 25 -27. This was an opportunity to learn the essentials of kayaking and to obtain the specific skills I felt I lacked in order to gain more confidence on the water. It was also an excuse to escape the cold weather in New York for the warmth of Florida. Mission accomplished!!!
Although many of the more local attendees arrived with their own sea kayaks, Sweetwater will rent you a sea kayak & necessary equipment for 1 to 3 days. This worked out well for all of those who flew in, like myself. However, I did bring my own PFD, bilge pump and paddle (Aqua Bound Northern Lights 4 piece Tango Fiberglass with a straight carbon shaft, which easily fit in my suitcase).
There were 22 different courses to choose from (see www.sweetwaterkayaks.com) of which I chose 5 over the three day period (Edging for Success; Self-Rescue; Practical Navigation; Practical Navigation on the Water and Journeying Skills). The coaches were patient, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, encouraging and sometimes even comical, keeping everyone relaxed. Sweetwater Kayaks even arranged for the coaches & students to meet and enjoy a casual dinner where we exchanged personal and kayaking stories. It was great to make new friends and exchange contact info. This was such a positive experience, I am counting the days to next year's symposium.
Finally, in spite of the cold weather in New York, I was anxious to put my new skills to the test. That story is for another day.