Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kids give Kayaking Adventure Camp in Palm Harbor rave reviews

Mike Machado didn't plan on showing off for a bunch of kids. It just happened that 17 young kayakers were paddling by him in St. Joseph's Sound when a catfish chomped down on his fishing line. "Hey, that guy caught a catfish!'' yelled Connor Smith, 13. A few oohs and ahhs rippled across the water. "Didn't mean to show off,'' Machado, a Clearwater resident, told his observers. "I'm just out fishing with my son today.''

That's how things go, said Dennis Peters, who owns Simply Kayaking with his wife, Diane. "When you get out on the water, every day brings another surprise.''

This summer marks the sixth year that Simply Kayaking is teaming up with Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation to offer Kayaking Adventure, a camp for youths from ages 9 to 14. The kayaks are launched at Pop Stansell Park. The first session was held last week, on Thursday and Friday. The next session will be held July 21 and 22.

Dennis, a retired Columbia County sheriff's deputy, and Diane, a retired Largo homicide investigator, started the business that specializes in guided kayaking tours in 2006. Their children, Meagan Martin, a junior at Tarpon Springs High, and Corey Martin, who graduated from Tarpon High earlier this month and has enlisted in the U.S. Army, take turns serving as camp counselors.

The family aims to not only introduce kids to kayaking, but also to "expose some kids to local waters when otherwise they might not be familiar,'' said Dennis, 43.

"For the most part, I'd say the kids who join us are either more familiar with sports like baseball and soccer, or have a mom and dad who have said it's time they get away from the computer and get outdoors,'' he said.

Before any paddle hit the water, the couple, who met while they were both working for the state Department of Environmental Protection, gave the group an overview on kayaking, including safety rules.

"Even though the motorboats are required to give kayaks the right-of-way since they don't have engines, there's an expression, 'You don't want to be dead right,' '' said Dennis. "What this means is be smart and just stay out of the way of bigger boats.''

The kids also got briefed on important gear. This includes a whistle attached to your life preserver, sunscreen and a computer-generated map of the body of water you're kayaking in — in this case, Sutherland Bayou.

"You should also bring some plastic Ziploc bags to cover your cell phone in case you find yourself in the splash zone,'' said Dennis.

At that introductory gathering, Randi Tripka, 10, was a little concerned about that so-called splash zone.

She raised her hand shyly.

"What if a person doesn't want to get splashed?'' she asked.

"You can move off to the side when people are splashing, but it's going to get so hot that I bet you probably will start hoping to get splashed,'' joked Diane, 46.

On the first day of the camp Thursday, the couple led a simple, 1-mile paddle through the open estuary in the bayou. The campers were instructed to keep their eyes out for marine life — nurse sharks, horseshoe crabs, dolphins and manatees.

"We don't expect to have any problems,'' said Dennis. "That's because of our instruction as well as the way kayaks work. In the last six years, I've worked with thousands of kayakers, and I've had less than 10 who have tipped over.''

After her first time out, Randi, who took the camp with her sister Abby, 13, said the camp was definitely "awesome and fantastic.''

"But it is very hot, so yes, even before we were done with the first trip I wanted to get splashed,'' she said.

For the second day Friday, the now-experienced kayakers wasted no time. A little after 8:30 a.m., the group headed out on a three-hour, 3.5-mile excursion.

Heading to a narrow mangrove canopy, the kids spotted an osprey and her babies, a roseate spoonbill hidden among red mangrove branches, and a cormorant drying its wings.

On a spoil island out in the middle of the sound, the campers stopped for a snack. They watched mullet jump and chased hermit crabs while doing the stingray shuffle in the shallow water.

Meagan, 16, kept an eye on the beached kayaks while the children goofed around.

"One thing I know we are doing is helping more kids get into nature,'' Meagan said. "When it comes to going to the beach, it seems kids my age automatically think of Clearwater Beach — which is fine, but it's busy. These kids are learning there is more than that when it comes to having fun in nature.''

Bob Tripka, Randi and Abby's father, agrees. Although he describes Palm Harbor, the community in which he has raised his daughters, as "all about the water," he adds that "outsiders might not realize this.''

However, the girls, who he describes as "part outdoor adventurers and part video game connoisseurs,'' still have more to learn about navigating the local waters, he said.

"They took this camp because I want my girls to learn to kayak. I want them to always enjoy the water, and I want us to go out on it together.''

>>cts

Kayaking Adventure Camp

What: A two-day camp offered through Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation, for kids ages 10 to 14.

When: The second installment will be held from 8 a.m. to noon July 21-22.

Where: Kayaks hit the water at Pop Stansell Park, 797 Florida Ave.

Cost: $100 for the two-day camp.

Registration: Call (727) 771-6000.

For more information on Simply Kayaking of Palm Harbor, visit www.simplykayaking.com.

Kids give Kayaking Adventure Camp in Palm Harbor rave reviews 06/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.