DRUMS — So, how did they enjoy their first time kayaking?
“It’s awesome,” Trina Nitz, of Drums, called to a bystander at Nescopeck State Park’s Lake Frances.
“I love it,” said Nancy Herman, of Kingston.
“This is the most relaxed I’ve ever been,” added Charlotte Vazquez, a Weatherly native who now lives in Mechanicsburg.
The women were part of a group of novice paddlers who gathered on Wednesday to learn the basics of kayaking.
Nescopeck State Park offered several sessions that day, including one for children and one for seniors/retirees.
“It made me feel comfortable, that this was just for older people,” said Harry Trumbauer, of White Haven, who had spent 20 years in the Navy but had only had one previous experience in a kayak — when he was fishing in Chile.
Environmental Education Specialist Amy Shull gave the group an hour-long safety lesson and showed them how to go through the paddling motions before they ventured into the kayaks.
“Go in toward your toe, out past your hip,” she said, moving her arms in an arc as if she was digging a paddle into the water. “That’s going to propel your boat forward. The bottom part of your body has one job, to stabilize the boat.”
“You know I’m nervous,” Colleen MacDaniel of Thornhurst admitted as the group got ready to push off into the water.
“I taught someone in her 70s, and she was more nervous than you,” Shull said.
Soon all eight students were paddling around in the lake, enjoying the sight of water lilies and a clear blue sky.
“We really lucked out on the day,” someone commented.
“This was on my bucket list for the summer,” Herman said with a grin.
Susan Robishaw, of Danville, who at 75 appeared to be the most senior kayaker on the lake, said she was glad the park offered the lesson.
When she retired last summer from her job as a library director for Geisinger, she bought a kayak but broke her leg in a fall from a bicycle. Now that she’s recuperated, she’s ready for her new sport.
“I just want to learn how to paddle and steer and get in and out,” she said.
Shull covered all those topics, but admitted entering and exiting the craft can be awkward. “So far no graceful way has been found,” the instructor said with a laugh.
As for MacDaniel, who had been nervous, she finished the lesson beaming.
How had her kayaking experience been?
“Wonderful,” she said.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT