This is a list of 2018 Sea Kayak symposia in the Midwest and East Coast. While St. Petersburg is quite a drive, I’ve included it because Florida is a tremendous paddling venue in February and March. Please comment below if you have attended any of these events and want to share your experiences.
February 23-25, Florida Gulf Coast Sea Kayak (Sweetwater) Symposium, St. Petersburg, Florida “Sweetwater Kayaks Symposium offers a variety of classes, training, and assessments. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned paddler there will be numerous class options to challenge your skill and take you to the next level. We host a number of the finest paddling coaches for our symposium, to be sure that everyone receives individualized attention. Come out and join Sweetwater Kayaks for an exciting, educational time in the Florida sun this February.” Nigel Foster teaches at this symposium. I have never been to this one but there are a lot of cool paddling venues in the Tampa Area such as Fort Desoto.
March 3, Quiet Water Symposium, MSU – Lansing, MI I have heard that this one-day symposium has similar speakers and topics to Canoecopia. It does not have the sales floor that Canoecopia has which may be a plus or minus depending on your perspective. At Canoecopia, I have attended lectures all three days so you have to be more selective for this one.
March 9-11, 2018, Canoecopia, Madison, WI A good chance to get out and see new gear as well as to hear presentations by top speakers and proponents in the kayaking world. In my opinion, the talks are the prime reason to go and they include places to go, paddling skills, training, camping/first aid skills, and pool demonstrations of the coming season. This event is sponsored by Rutabaga and offers a lot of good info.
April 20-22, 2018, East Coast Paddlesports Symposium, Charleston, SC This “is a 3-day immersion in the history, technique, hands-on experience, and fun of kayaking, canoeing, SUP, and more. ... On-water classes are designed to enrich your symposium experience. Symposium participants will also have access to unlimited boat demos from the world's leading manufacturers, social opportunities with the world's top instructors, an event t-shirt, and much more.” They bring top instructors from across the country (Nigel Foster, Nigel Dennis, Dubside, Helen Wilson, …) so you get a good exposure. Probably best for beginning to Intermediate paddlers. They offer some advanced classes on surf and boat handling if conditions aren’t too rough.
May 18-20, 2018, Traditional Inuit Paddlers of the Southeast (TIPS), Waterloo, SC A Greenland paddling symposium in South Carolina. Focuses on the traditions, equipment, and techniques associated with Greenland paddling. See discussion for Qajaq Training Camp.
Memorial Day Weekend, WMCKA, Big Blue Lake, Montague, MI This is an excellent symposium for newer paddlers. They provided good training on a protected lake. Bonnie Perry also provides BCU Level 3 training (not assessment) which goes out to Lake Michigan and would be good for people working on Intermediate skills. This symposium is incredibly child-friendly with an on-water program just for the kids – the children paddle Tsunami SPs with Greenland Paddles. https://wmcka.org/events/symposium/
June 8-10, 2018, South Bass Rendezvous, South Bass Island, Lake Erie, Ohio For legal reasons, this is positioned as a “paddlers meeting on dry land without much of an agenda besides getting together at the South Bass Island State Park. It is a great place and time to meet new and old paddling friends to have a great time” There are no classes or organized trips but South Bass Island is a great area to paddle in. There is a group dinner Saturday Night. Groups of paddlers get together and travel in/around South Bass. An excellent way to meet other Midwest Sea Kayakers. There is a ferry out to South Bass if conditions are not favorable for the 3-4 paddle out there.
July 13-15, 2018, Door County Sea Kayak Symposium, Rowley Bay Resort, Door County, WI An excellent sea kayak symposium sponsored by Rutabaga out of Madison. I have heard good things about this symposium. It allows people to take paddles in the Door County area as well as classes on various subjects with good regional instructors. Probably, the premier symposium in the mid-west.
July 18-22, 2018, Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium, Grand Marais, MI
This symposium is a great opportunity to tour Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island. They run tours to these locations as well as running classes in Grand Marais Harbor and Lake Superior. One advantage of this symposium is that they camp at the Grand Marais camp ground so you can walk to the launch area – the harbor is also protected for classes while more interesting conditions may be available on the big lake only a 5-10 minute paddle away.
August 16-19, 2018, Ladies of the Lake Symposium, Grand Marais, MI A symposium for women held in Grand Marais, MI. I’ve heard that it’s excellent.
August 23-26, 2018, Qajaq Training Camp, Frankfort, MI Qajaq Training Camp is a 3-day symposium exploring the Greenland paddling tradition. It focuses on Greenland rolling techniques, equipment, and paddling techniques. They look into different aspects of the Greenland paddling traditions such as paddling with a Greenland blade, harpooning, skin-on-frame boats, paddle making, and rope exercises. A good chance to learn to learn to use your Greenland paddle better, tune your Greenland roll, and hang out with people committed to Greenland paddling.
October 4-7, 2018, The Gales Storm Gathering, Munising, MI Unlike most symposia, this event targets intermediate to advanced sea kayakers. This is intentionally held on Lake Superior when they expect Interesting conditions. They also have one day on a nearby river where they can explore playing in current. They had safety issues in 2017 requiring a coast guard rescue but this symposium involves training in advanced conditions so that can happen.
October 4-7, 2018, Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, Delaware East coast Greenland paddling symposium – the oldest Greenland Symposium.
October 13-18, 2018, Sea Kayak Georgia Skills Week, Tybee Island, Georgia This symposium brings excellent instructors to Tybee Island for a week of all-day classes. All-day classes allow you to actually work with an instructor rather than continually bounce between venues and classes. Tybee also has a range of conditions that you can paddle is so the classes target everyone from beginners to advanced. If you want to learn surf and rough water paddling, this is something to look at. If interested, they offer BCU Level 3 and 4 training and assessment. In my opinion, this symposium offers a great opportunity to advance your skills.
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