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Forest Preserve launches summer paddling program with ‘bring your own boat’ format

Forest Preserve District of Will County paddling programs begin July 21 with a new format that requires participants to bring their own boats, paddles and personal flotation devices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change is designed to keep participants and staff safe while still offering guided paddling tours that highlight the flora, fauna and history of Forest Preserve lakes.

“Even with the ‘BYOB’ safety restrictions in place, we still felt it was important to offer paddling programs this summer because people appreciate the opportunity to paddle with others,” said Forest Preserve interpretive naturalist Angie Opiola. “Paddling with ACA (American Canoe Association) certified instructors is an efficient way to become a better paddler yourself. You gain skill, experience and confidence.”

Programs are open to paddlers ages 12 or older and cost $10 per person (unless otherwise noted in the descriptions below). Those ages 17 or younger must be accompanied by a registered adult. Register for programs on the Forest Preserve’s Event Calendar, reconnectwithnature.org/news-events/event-calendar, and remember to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a water bottle to each program and wear shoes and clothes that can get wet.

Here are the July and August paddling programs:

  • Paddle the Preserves: Lake Chaminwood (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. July 21, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. Get out for a relaxing paddle and learn about some of the lake’s history and its flora and fauna. Registration deadline: July 18.
  • Paddle the Preserves: Whalon Lake (Intermediate), two-hour sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. July 23, Whalon Lake. Learn a few paddling moves on shore, and then enjoy the preserve’s wildlife from a kayak. Registration deadline: July 21.
  • Kayak Kollege, 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 24, Lake Chaminwood Preserve. This workshop delves deeper into paddling strokes and helps participants refine their paddling skills for a more pleasurable kayaking experience. Registration deadline: July 23.
  • Bring Your Own Boat: Touring Rock Run Rookery (Intermediate), 10 a.m.-noon July 25, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Take a late morning tour to explore the animal life found at this preserve. Previous paddling experience is required. Registration deadline: July 23.
  • Quickstart Your Kayak Skills Course, 1-5 p.m. July 25, Monee Reservoir. Learn paddling basics, from what to wear and basic strokes to potential hazards and safety information. $40 per person. Registration deadline: July 24.
  • Paddle and Pinot, BYOB, 6-9 p.m. July 25, Monee Reservoir. Enjoy some adult time paddling the calm reservoir and watching the sun set in the summer sky. Bring your favorite bottle of wine for a post-paddling wine tasting on shore around a campfire. Ages 21 or older. Registration deadline: July 24.
  • Paddle the Preserves: Rock Run Rookery (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. August 1, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Paddle around the islands and inlets of the rookery. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: July 30. 
  • Birding by Boat, 9-11 a.m. August 8, McKinley Woods – Kerry Sheridan Grove. Paddle the confluence of the Des Plaines and DuPage rivers to spot birds and other wildlife. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: August 6. 
  • Paddle Whalon Lake, (Intermediate), 90-minute sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. August 22, Whalon Lake. Stretch out your paddling muscles as you explore the lake after learning basic paddling moves on shore. Previous kayaking experience is required. Registration deadline: August 18.

Photo:  Enjoy kayaking this summer by signing up for a Forest Preserve District of Will County paddling program.. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants have to bring their own boats, paddles and personal flotation devices. (Photo by Forest Preserve staff | Chad Merda)