West Point organizes spring water activities

Kayak flotillas and people striking yoga poses on paddle boards may be familiar sights in West Point's waters come this spring.

The town will coordinate with several other local organizations to hold a waters activities series focused on kayaking and paddle boarding around the Glass Island area of the Mattaponi River this spring. The series includes activities such as lessons, paddle board yoga and kayaking trips from mid May to late June.

This series is intended to encourage people to use the town's resources, such as the Glass Island boat ramp. It's also a way for people lacking their own water sports equipment to enjoy the river, town manager John Edwards said.

Alongside the town, Mattaponi Pamunkey Rivers Association, Paddle On and West Point YMCA are on board with the series.

Mattaponi Pamunkey Rivers Association takes the lead on several events in the series and will host rain barrel workshops and a Fathers Day fishing and kayaking event. The organization aims to promote awareness of local waterways and the value of conservation through its participation in the series.

"If people have a connect to the river, they care about it," said Dawn Shank, education committee chairwoman.

The organization is expected to hold several kayaking tours during the series, including a Mattaponi River cruise which starts in Walkerton on June 1. Other tours take place in the Glass Island area. The group's tours are often led by association members who are knowledgeable about the area's natural resources and history, Shank said.

The tours are tide-specific so when a trip begins can vary. Tours are planned according to tides to ensure participants, with ages often ranging from 7-80 years old can keep up, Shank said.

The organization's rain barrel workshop will be held at the Upper King William Library on June 7. Participants will be guided through the steps of creating a rain barrel they can take home. The barrels, fitted with screens and spigots, can be placed under a home's gutters to collect rain water, Shank said.

The barrels are a conservation method that reduces runoff and provides a water source for activities like gardening, Shank said.

Registration for the rain barrel workshop is handled through the library's website and is expected to be available in May. Registration for other MPRA events can be done through the organization's website, which is also anticipated to go live in May, Shank said.

Equipment rental can be arranged during event registration on the MPRA website, Shank said.

Williamsburg-based Paddle On is also expected to be at several events to offer paddle boards.

Lori Erwin, of Paddle On, said the West Point area is perfect for a water sports series because of its location wedged between the Pamunkey, Mattaponi and York rivers.

"It makes it a perfect sport to get out and paddle," Erwin said.

Paddle boarding is a different beast than kayaking because it's full-body workout as paddle boarders balance on the board standing up, Erwin said.

In addition to introductory paddle board lessons on May 21 and other paddle board outings, Paddle On will hold paddle board yoga classes several times in June.

The session lasts 75 minutes and has participants strike poses on paddle boards in waters about 4-5 feet deep, Erwin said.

Being in nature makes the experience distinct from traditional yoga, and balancing on a paddle board is more of a workout than yoga on a mat, Erwin said.

Just what the pricing will be isn't fixed yet. Erwin anticipates her usual rates will be increased to cover transportation and travel costs. A yoga paddle board session normally costs $20 if the participant doesn't own a paddle board and $15 if the participant does have a paddle board. Cruising sessions start at $28 for a two-hour jaunt and rates decrease for longer tours. Paddle boards and equipment are included in sessions, Erwin said.

Erwin expects to be in town for the entire day during Paddle On's events. She intends to split most of her days between lessons and paddle board yoga.

Registration for Paddle On events will be available on the organization's website once times are determined in the coming weeks.

If the events prove popular, the series may be extended into the summer or become an annual event. Further down the road, a successful series may prompt a discussion about whether a brick-and-mortar water sports outfitter sets up in town, Edwards said.

Additional details about the series will be provided on the town's website and social media, as well as on websites of participating organizations, in the run up to the series.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

West Point water activities series schedule

•May 21: 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Paddle On introductory paddle board sessions.

•June 1: 4p.m., MPRA Mattaponi River paddle.

•June 4: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Paddle On paddle board lessons and paddle board yoga.

•June 7: 6-8 p.m., MPRA rain barrel workshop.

•June 11: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Paddle On paddle board lessons and paddle board yoga.

•June 18: MPRA Fathers Day fish and paddle. Time to be determined.

•June 24: Tentatively 8:30 a.m., MPRA paddle, river cleanup and picnic.

•June 25: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Paddle On paddle board lessons and paddle board yoga.

Additional event dates may be included as part of the series. Some events are tide-specific and some times may be subject to change. For more information, visit west-point.va.us, mpra.org and paddleonwmbg.com.

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