Life on the water offers a whole different way of living. Fishing, boating, surfing, swimming, wake boarding, sailing—if you do it yourself, it can feel like the only way to live, and if you’re a land-locked soul, the appeal can be completely mysterious.
We talked to a few TIPsters who participate in various water activities to get their insights.
Tell us about yourself.
Verity: Books, books, canoeing, being outdoors, reading, writing, books. My favorite subjects are writing and science.
Andrew: I am fourteen years old and attend Athens Academy in Athens, Georgia. Some of my hobbies include playing travel soccer for Athens United, playing golf, playing video games, wake surfing, and wake boarding. My favorite subjects in school are math and science, especially the units on space! It just amazes me that we have only seen roughly 5 percent of the universe, and that there is 95 percent that we have never seen and possibly will never see.
Jonathan: My name is Johnathan Kim, and I just started my freshman year at Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton, Florida. Math and science are my favorite subjects and what I pursued the past three summers at Duke TIP. I love boating, fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. I also love golf and hope to play in college.
How did you get involved in your water activities?
Verity: I wanted to be outdoors and explore, but I was really nervous. I went to a sleepover camp to learn how to canoe. It was worth it to learn canoeing to be outside. It makes me stronger.
I like that it’s peaceful and you get to look out at a seemingly endless lake. The air is fresh and it’s quiet and it’s easy to concentrate when you move your paddles. I like being in the canoe with other people and working together and chatting, but being in my own world at peace at the same time.
Andrew: I got into wake boarding five years ago during the summer when I was at my grandmother’s lake house on Lake Keowee in South Carolina. There was an event where two wake boarding pros, Vinny Knapp and Abby Delgoffe, conducted a clinic to teach people how to wake board and wake surf.
Following their exhibition, I was determined to learn how to do this amazing sport. I immediately signed up. Every year since then I have been taking lessons from them. My favorite part of wake surfing and wake boarding is the freedom of what you can do on the board—any trick that you could imagine is possible—as well as the fact that you can just enjoy the ride behind the boat.
Jonathan: I grew up on the water. Our house was on a canal that leads straight to the Atlantic Ocean. We always had a boat that we would go fishing and diving on. I like the peace that I feel when on the ocean, but also love the action of catching fish, snorkeling to catch lobsters, and spearfishing. I also love eating the fish that we catch.
What’s your proudest accomplishment on the water?
Verity: This year we did an eight-day canoe trip that was seventy kilometers from Canada to Minnesota as part of camp. Our group was five girls, all ten years old, and three councilors. We had to carry all our gear, including all our food, and sleep in tents. We even had to drink treated lake water!
Portaging is when you have to carry everything, including the canoe, over a strip of land around rapids or to the next river or lake. We had six portages on the first day! Portaging is really hard because everything is heavy and hard to carry on your back. You need to have a strong relationship with your group in order to work together to overcome obstacles and challenges.
Andrew: Some of my proudest accomplishments on the water are learning both these sports. Although different, they have similar fundamentals. Being able to jump the wake on the wake board and being able to wake surf without holding on to a tow rope during my first attempt were both proud moments.
You have even more freedom on the wake surf board because you are not strapped in, the boat is not towing you, and you are all that is keeping you from falling. With wake surfing you are in full control, which is why I love it most of all!
Jonathan: I have had several accomplishments on the water. I was in an article in Saltwater Magazine with the fish that I won my school fishing tournament with. I recently had a bass that I caught accepted in Bassmaster Magazine‘s Lunker Club. I have learned to enjoy and respect our waters and the importance of conservation and leaving where we go better than we found it.
Many TIPsters have never done what you have. What should they know if they want to try it?
Verity: There are probably lakes or ponds near you where you can practice canoeing. They don’t have to be big.
There are a lot of different paddle strokes to learn. Whatever you do, listen to your instructor, don’t freak out if you are “lost,” and help your group with portaging.
Andrew: If you are interested in wake boarding and would like to try it, my advice to you is the following:
First, try to find someone with experience in the area so that they can show you the ropes! Having someone experienced that teaches you is the quickest and easiest way to get up on your first time on the water.
Second, make sure that you know which foot is your dominant foot! This is very important to wake boarding and wake surfing. Having your strongest foot in the back is important because almost all of your weight is going to be on your back foot all of the time.
Third, make sure that you are always leaning back and do not be afraid to stand tall.
Last, have fun and do not be scared! Having fun is the most important part! If you fall, just get right back up, know what made you fall, and fix it in the future! Other than that, I hope that you will try wake boarding—it is very fun!
Jonathan: For those TIPsters who want to venture out into the waters, remember to have fun and explore but always respect the power of oceans and rivers. Remember that the waters are also one of our most important resources and need to be preserved.
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