If you're looking for an extraordinary way to bond with friends or co-workers outside of the normal channels, kayaking down the river together might be it. I'm a board member at the Park People of Milwaukee County, and we decided it would be great to gather on the river for a few hours, as most of us only see each other at the monthly meetings. This was a great respite.
One of our members set up a group kayak tour with the Urban Ecology Center. All we had to do was show up in comfortable clothing that could stand getting wet a bit. We had to stand in water to get into the kayak too, so water shoes were helpful. The kayaks and professionals met us at the launch site in Thiensville, with all the gear we needed. They had transported it using a trailer specially made for kayaks. They even did the unloading, though we helped a bit.
One of the Urban Ecology Center professionals was with us throughout the day, acting as leader. She gave a short briefing, helped us gear up, and watched over us as we paddled. There were only a few small mishaps- hats blowing into the water, low lying branches getting in the way, getting stuck on shallow rock ledges. The sun was quite strong though, and I was glad to have sunglasses and sunscreen. A few of our members had never been in a kayak, and they were able to do this, so don't let being a beginner stand in the way. The kayaks are lightweight. They had doubles and singles. My son and I were able to share a kayak, so he could enjoy the scenery even if he didn't paddle.
The scenery along the river is quite nice this time of year. We saw waterfowl- heron, geese, ducks. The greenery makes for some great photos too. We passed the stone bridge, which I had never seen before. Very nice. There's a new small boat launch near Brown Deer Road called Badger Meter River Park. If you're looking for launch point, or just a place to get out and have a picnic, check it out.
Ready to plan your own group tour? It doesn't have to be kayaking. You can also do biking or a nature walk. In winter, it could be cross country skiing. The link for group events is here. The fee will vary depending on the number of hours and the amount of equipment. Remember once you're a member, you can also use the free rental of equipment, including kayaks, or even try out the shuttle service. Check out these other fun Urban Ecology Center paddling programs this summer. See you on the water!