The instructors are already there, lining canoes up along the water's edge. We gather for the usual discussion: What is a life jacket? How do you make sure your paddle fits? Which end is the front of the boat? Hold onto the gunnels and keep your weight low as you climb in. Make sure you have a bailer and a throw line, in case you happen to flip over.
We pull our life jackets on over our warm clothing - another layer to help fend off the morning's chill. The more optimistic participants have their sunglasses at the ready, but everyone keeps their rain jackets on
Getting out on the water is smooth, and in a minute we're off. We start by learning different paddle strokes - the sweep, draw, and pry.
I am told that if any photos end up on Facebook, I'll be in big trouble. Fortunately, wcatrex isn't Facebook!
Once we're all in our new positions and back on the water, we go over the strokes we previously learned and add one more: the J-stroke. Our instructor compliments us all rigorously for how good are, and then ushers us back toward shore for a nice lunch break. By the time we return to the water, the sun has come out, offering promises of a warmer afternoon. We go for a paddle around the lake, navigating through stumps along the water's edge and investigating a beaver dam.
We also engage in a lively battle of wits, strength and heart against our instructors and another kayak group, using paddles to fling water-soaked sponges at each other. While nobody really keeps score, I am personally certain that we came out victorious.