Lake and Sumter Style Magazine
8:26 pm EDT
Monday, October 19, 2020

Social Club Spotlight: Connecting with nature


Kayakers in The Villages cherish paddling adventures on the water. 

Photos were provided by The Villages Canoe and Kayak Club

For the 300-plus members of The Villages Canoe and Kayak Club (VCKC), a wonderful way to spend a pretty day is by leisurely paddling in Florida’s picturesque rivers.

“We just had a trip on the Withlacoochee River and back down to Nichols Spring, and we all went swimming in the springs,” says VCKC club member Charles Dingman, formerly of Annapolis, Maryland. “I enjoy anything having to do with the water, and that is the reason I came here. There are over 700 springs in the north central Florida area, and thousands of miles of rivers, creeks and springs in Florida to paddle. It is wonderful.” 

Charles learned to kayak at age 8 and was instantly hooked. He loved the feeling of maneuvering through the water with a two-bladed paddle in a kayak, a one-person boat that resembles a canoe with a closed cockpit. 

He has been a VCKC member for four years, also serving as the club’s webmaster, and he treasures the camaraderie with fellow water enthusiasts. The club arranges monthly trips and members have paddled in the Titusville area, along Crystal River into the Gulf of Mexico, around Orlando, and even up into Georgia.

The club meets at 2:15pm on the third Tuesday of each month (except during summer months of June to August) at Colony Cottage Regional Recreation Center.

Membership into the Villages Canoe and Kayak Club is open to any Villages resident who has the basic paddling skills and is able to properly enter and exit a canoe or kayak without assistance; launch without assistance; handle themselves in the event of a capsize; control one’s boat by paddling forward, backward, etc.

Villagers uncertain of their paddling skills are encouraged to take an introductory kayaking class offered through Discovery Kayak Tours at Lake Miramar at the La Hacienda Recreation Center, where Villagers learn about kayaks, paddles, strokes, techniques, rescue and gear. The instruction is for beginners and can be arranged by calling 352.789.4959.

“Even if you’ve never been in a kayak before, you can go out and paddle around,” says Charles, adding that kayaking classes are also available at Lake Griffin State Park in Fruitland Park.