It's often been said that a day at the lake restores the soul. Tiffany Gorrell, Nature Education Supervisor for the City of Mansfield, would most likely agree.
A couple of times each month she and a team of folks with the city's parks department routinely load boats on a trailer and head to Britton Park for an adventure in kayaking.
The kayaking program is a little over a year old and runs from March to October and has been "wildly" successful.
"We do a lot of nature walks in the parks; this is another way to venture out on a trail only it's not walking, it's kayaking," Gorrell said.
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Gorrell said participants tour a creek on Joe Pool Lake in dual-seated kayaks for a guide-led scenic paddle.
"We have a lot of father/sons and mother/daughters that come out for the experience," Gorrell said. "Guests are given safety instructions and technique prior to departing so no experience is necessary."
She said tour guests must be at least 7 years old and that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
"It's another great way to experience nature," she said.
Andy Binz, Parks and Recreation Superintendent, said the response to the program has been "great."
"It's a great way to come out and see a part of Joe Pool Lake many people have never seen," he said. "There's lots of benefits. It gives beginners an opportunity to come out and try kayaking in a controlled environment."
He said it also provides quiet time and an appreciation of nature.
"We bring naturalists out on each tour so that they can point out wildlife and educate participants," Binz added. " Or you may just want to come out to relax."
The city has five double kayaks so up to 10 individuals can participate; space is limited and classes usually fill up, Binz said.
Father/son duo Scott and Keller Bowman took to the water recently.
"It's fun," said 13-year old Keller.
Scott said it was something they had been looking forward to for a long time.
"I'm glad we're doing this in the springtime before it gets too hot," Scott said, smiling. "We've been thinking about getting our own kayak; this is our ‘try before you buy.' We get trained and experience it with professionals while it allows us to decide if it's something we want to invest in."
Binz and Gorrell both said their biggest challenge is the unpredictability of the weather.
"We've been fortunate, we haven't had to cancel a class yet," Binz said.
The kayaking program began following the opening of Oliver Nature Park.
"When we opened Oliver Nature Park we decided to begin offering nature education based programs," Binz said. "Once we got those established, we wanted to expand them and start offering outdoor nature programs, such as kayaking."
Binz said the city thought people would enjoy it and that it was relatively easy to get going. On the horizon, he said they hope to begin offering camping opportunities this fall at Cedar Hill State Park.
"We're really excited about that," he said. "It'll give families who haven't been camping before an opportunity to try and learn about it close to home."
Lance Winter: 817-390-7274
Mansfield Parks & Recreation Online Registration
Find additional upcoming kayaking dates and register online by visiting MansfieldParks.com and selecting online registration. Annual MAC membership is not required for Nature Education programs, including kayaking. Purchase an annual membership for classes held at the MAC.
Next Kayaking Classes
▪ July 15: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
▪ July 28: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.