| Paddle Pals |

By: Hannah Kenzie

Get Up And Go Kayaking has a new kid on the block! Paddle Pals is a wildly fun new adventure created with one thing in mind: to empower kids in nature with their parent by their side. We started this environmental education program because we believe families benefit from disconnecting from tech and learn together in an outdoor, hands-on setting. Shell Key Preserve is made up of several vital estuary habitats exploding with wildlife, making it the perfect classroom with so much to explore! 

This program was spearheaded by one of our tour guides, Hannah, who is extremely passionate about outdoor education and marine biology. The way she puts it, “our regular two-hour tours gave kids only a glimpse of how much there is to see and learn at Shell Key Preserve, so we wanted to create an entirely separate experience”. What makes Paddle Pals different is the itinerary and goal of the tour. Kayakers will receive scientific equipment to work with, collect data, and learn about the environment in a way that is both engaging and explorative. The lessons and activities in these tours are designed just for specific age groups, rooted in the intention for everyone to learn, including parents! Shell Key is an intensely productive ecosystem with pristine saltwater marshes, mangrove islands, seagrass beds and oyster reefs that provide the best setting to learn about these habitats. We have a fun list of themed tours planned this summer that will teach wildlife identification, marine biology, ecology, and beach geology. Along the way, paddlers will kayak through mangrove tunnels (tide permitting), spot bird species, find evidence of evolution at the beach, and predict new shoreline features! Paddle Pal tours will naturally build up self esteem and develop risk-awareness by reading the waters and using teamwork. We want kids to leave feeling like they took on an adventure of a lifetime with a great amount of confidence and knowledge!

It is necessary to introduce young students to their environment and allow them to naturally connect to what is around them, so they can explore, identify and discover things on their own, to care about their world! Not only is environmental interpretation extremely vital for kids to cultivate a connection to their surroundings for the sake of conservation efforts, but it is very important to the well being of children in today’s increasingly nature absent society (Sobel, 1996). Our Paddle Pals kayaking trip is a fantastic way to extract your family from the tech-world and immerse them in a scenic, stress free experience outside. 

Let’s shift the classroom from online to outdoors and learn about our amazing estuaries and how we can help protect them! We can’t wait to see your family disconnect from devices and join us on our exciting clear kayaking adventure with Paddle Pals!

References
Sobel, D. (1996). Beyond ecophobia: reclaiming the heart in nature education. Published by Orion Magazine