While learning to paddle a canoe and navigate estuary waters was part of daily life for Calusa children, the best opportunity for today’s youth to learn those skills is often at summer camp.
This year Gulf Coast Kayak of Matlacha hosted six weeks of camps that included visits to the Calusa Heritage Trail.
Gulf Coast Kayakwas supported in their mission to help youngsters gain knowledge and appreciation of the estuarine environment and learn water safety through a grant from the Florida Paddling Trail Association which in turn received funds from Outdoor Nation/Paddle Nation. src="/Pine_Island_News_Blog/sites/default/files/PIN/image/GulfCoastCamp (2).thumbnail.jpg" target="_blank" align="left" hspace="8" vspace="8">
Adults, from left to right: Jim Niehaus (ACA Certified Kayak & SUP Instructor, Florida Master Naturalist & H2O Kayak Adventure Camp Program Coordinator), Blake Sanders and Timon Braun (High School volunteer camp counselors); student participants, left to right: Sebastian Murphy, Trip Edwards, Tyler Anson, Brody Murphy, Brady Lavenia, Cole Murphy, Evan Tichy, Blake Lavenia, Kaden Chandler, Grace Dahlstrom. (Photo by Diana Stockbridge.)
Those funds sponsored 11 campers, many of them Pine Island children, throughout the 6 weeks of camp.
Diana and Brian Stockbridge, Gulf Coast Kayak owners, and Jim Niehaus, guide and instructor, are graduates of the Florida Master Naturalist Program’s Coastal Module taught by Cindy Bear at Randell Research Center. Cindy is a past owner and co-founder of Gulf Coast Kayak and Jim volunteers at Randell Research Center, creating a unique legacy partnership supporting the Randell Research Center’s mission. We look forward to more innovative community partnerships and to seeing these young estuary enthusiasts on the water!