Over the years my friends have asked me what it is like to attend the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium (DCSKS), as it always sounds like the highlight of my summer. The simple answer to that question is that I feel like I am “coming home”. The people I find each year at the end of my drive to Rowley’s Bay, are hands down the kindness, warmest, funniest, quirkiest, and most gracious people I know. However, I didn’t know this when I first started coming to this event.
My partner agreed to come along that first year, to ensure that I would have help figuring out my rental gear, and have someone to hang out with. We soon found out that there are always people willing to help out, make you feel a part of the group, or laugh with you. These are a few of my examples:
Early one morning a woman I had met the day before, showed up at my door because she heard I wasn’t going to paddle that day. She turned out to be a Physical Therapist, and wrapped my knee so that it would not collapse again, and I could paddle.
We are standing in line for dinner under the big white tent, when someone in line says……………” you and your friend have to eat with us tonight, we have stories to share about our adventures”.
Standing looking a bit overwhelmed, as I tried to figure out how to move this rented 18’ kayak to the other end of the resort. Before I knew it, someone stopped on their way to lunch and started to laugh while asking if I needed some help moving my kayak.
In the years that have followed I continue to see people going out of their way to make kayaking possible for anyone that wants to try it. It might mean the loan of a piece of gear to a new friend, cheering when someone makes their first successful wet exit, offering to share their lunch with someone who forgot to pack one, or simply noticing someone looking a bit lost and going over to say hi and pull them into a group.
I have new experiences each year, be it the people I meet or learning that my eyes will open up under water whether I ask them to or not. I love this experience that we have started to call, “summer camp for adults”. It is where I have made lifelong friends to paddle and laugh with, while in a safe and supportive environment.