WAUSAU - Summertime in Northern and Central Wisconsin means time spent on the water. That usually means time on a boat for fishing or just for leisure. Another popular way to enjoy the water is in a kayak. And Wausau offers one of the best locations for it.
"It's really just enjoyable to be out on the water and you're always learning," said Whitecap Kayak Neal Schroeter.
Thanks to Whitecap Kayak, learning the ropes of whitewater kayaking is better than ever. Schroeter started the company 12 years ago to teach young people about the sport.
"As they learn, then we have them help instruct and lead trips," said Schroeter.
Most of those trips are on sea kayaks on Lake Superior, but Schroeter and his team use their expertise to teach lessons at the Wausau Whitewater complex located on the Wisconsin River.
"They open up the dam, and you've got whitewater from 9:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon, Saturday and Sunday," said Neal.
This was the first of two weekends this summer that Whitecap Kayak will host lessons in Wausau. Those lessons are split into three different levels so that beginners can spend time just getting used to their boats.
"People will learn some basic things on how to sit in the boat, how to hold their paddle, how to get out of the boat," said Schroeter.
Once the basics are covered comes what many consider to be the hardest part.
"A really fearful thing is just that first tipping over," said Schroeter.
But before long, those very same beginners can start at the top, and turn, tumble, and speed all the way down the rapids.
"Some of our former students are paddling circles around me. They're on the course doing flips in the air and everything, and they're really good at it," said Schroeter.
But for Schroeter, he enjoys teaching students more than just kayaking skills.
"They have learned some really good life skills in how to relate to people, and how to communicate, and how to lead," said Schroeter.
If you're thinking about trying whitewater kayaking for the first time, Schroeter says start slow and go from there.
"It's not just about getting on the river and crashing down and surviving," said Schroeter.
Registration is open for the next weekend of lessons with Whitecap Kayak. For more information, you can click on the link below.