First-time kayaking event for PYMS kids at FL Museum

Staff Reports
The Chronicle-Express
One 7th grader who had only paddled a little bit before the outing said that “learning how to do it” was her favorite part of the experience.

BRANCHPORT — Several students from Penn Yan Middle School attended a free kayaking event Oct. 11, arranged specifically for the 7th grade class. Taking advantage of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the great autumn weather, Debbie Lyon of the Finger Lakes Museum (FLM) and Mike Sullivan of Penn Yan Central School District  coordinated the special event with help from museum volunteers, Sidsel Overgaard and Leslie Panos.

After a brief introduction to paddling led by Lyon, a certified kayak instructor, the girls explored Sugar Creek for over an hour, passing beaver lodges and eagle nests, and making it out onto the open water of Keuka Lake. Only a few students had previous kayaking experience, which made for a strong blend of recreation and education, two major themes in FLM experiences.

After a brief introduction to paddling led by Lyon, a certified kayak instructor, the girls explored Sugar Creek for over an hour, passing beaver lodges and eagle nests, and making it out onto the open water of Keuka Lake.

“I love ‘firsts’ for kids, when they get to try something new,” said Sullivan, a former FLM employee and a local substitute teacher. “Anytime they get to immerse themselves in something new like this just adds to their self-confidence and their curiosity, and it’s too bad that many local kids aren’t able to get on the water very often. We really want to change that.”

Debbie Lyon added, “I love introducing people to the sport of kayaking — especially kids! There is so much to explore in this wonderful region, and what a beautiful day we had together on Sugar Creek and Keuka Lake! We’re happy to do more events like this with even more organizations in the future.”

Local students have participated in FLM programs in the past and there are plans to continue and expand this relationship in the months and years ahead. On this particular day, students and parents gathered for hot dogs and s’mores around the campfire afterwards.

One 7th grader, who had only paddled a little bit before the outing, said that “learning how to do it” was her favorite part of the experience. Another student, Kylin Sample, had actually never been in a kayak before and reported, “It was a good day.” She continued, “I was a little nervous and it was hard at first, but it was fun to meet new friends — and the best part was being on the water.”