MAINE KAYAK IS BORN
THIS ARTICLE IS A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT MAINE KAYAK AND ITS OWNER’S LIFE STORY.
My parents raised me in a one-room log cabin high on top of Hall And Wait Hill in North Anson, Maine. We lived off the land and were recreating outdoors every day. This experience gave me a deep appreciation for the environment and provided a platform for my decision to go to Unity College.
I started Unity College in the fall of 1994. Just coming off a 3 month backpacking and kayaking trip in Costa Rica, I was ready for the unique experience Unity College had to offer. I enrolled in the Outdoor Recreation program and quickly realized this is what I want to do in my life. Unity College appealed to me because of the people it attracted. I wanted to learn with people who appreciated the outdoors and took every opportunity to do so. The Unity experience gave me the opportunity to grow and be useful with my life.
After two years in the Unity Recreation program I enrolled in a National Outdoor Leadership School semester course in Patagonia, Chile on the fall of 2001. We spent 90 days in Patagonia sea kayaking and mountaineering with a large group of 16 people. We learned about the culture, environment of Patagonia, and the group we were braving the elements with. This experience gave me a love for kayaking. I wanted to give people the same opportunity I had to get outdoors and enjoy the environment they live in. I wasn’t clear on how I was going to do that until I enrolled in Steve Guthrie’s Program Planning class.
We were given the assignment to write an outdoor-based program over the entire semester. I immediately knew what had to be done. My parents own a whitewater rafting company here in Maine, so I knew my program had to be water based and because I had such a love for kayaking, a whitewater program seemed the most appropriate choice. That’s when Maine Kayak was born.
I spent the entire winter writing the program for a whitewater kayaking school but I wanted to do more with my efforts than hand in an assignment. I was so excited about the program, I knew that I wanted to follow through and implement it. While I was writing the program, I took night classes with L.L. Bean for my Recreational Guides license in Maine. This would allow me to take Maine Kayak’s participants on overnight wilderness trips. I also went to Western Massachusetts and got my American Canoe Association kayak instructor certification. This gave me a good platform for teaching whitewater kayaking skills. After spending all winter preparing, I was ready to implement the program.
I approached my parents for support of my dream. Maine Kayak would offer their rafting customers another activity to participate in while they were vacationing in Maine. This arrangement would benefit both of us and give people the opportunity to engage in new experiences in the outdoors. We invested in the kayaking equipment and started marketing our product. We quickly got a good response and realized that we had made the right decision.
Maine Kayak, Inc grew quickly under the umbrella of my parents’ rafting company. We had a large market base already established through North Country Rivers and Maine Kayak took full advantage. After designing our first website and brochure, people started to take interest and book trips. We offered ten; three-day whitewater kayaking beginner level lessons and three private one-on-one advanced skill classes.
Our first years were building years and provided the base to expand course offerings to sea and lake kayaking in the summer of 2003. We started offering half and full day trips on the Maine coast and lakes. Our touring program quickly became more popular than our whitewater courses. Maine Kayak is now in its fifth year and has become fully independent of North Country Rivers. We offer beginner to advanced whitewater instruction, lake touring on such beautiful lakes as Long Pond (Belgrade Lakes) and Moosehead, and sea kayaking up and down the coast. Although Maine Kayak is still very much a start-up company, I get the satisfaction of following through on my dream and working for myself.
I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the skills and education I got during my years at Unity College. Unity College gave me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally and learn both the hard and soft skills needed to be successful in my business.