April 21, 2015

Community paddling event set for May 2

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- “Breaking the Surface,” a free community paddling event, is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center on May 2. 

Both experienced paddlers and those who have never paddled before are welcome to participate on Little Grassy Lake at Touch of Nature, about eight miles south of Carbondale off of Giant City Road.  

Organizers will provide everything you need to get on the lake including canoes, kayaks, paddles and personal floatation devices. Participants will want to wear water shoes or other footwear they are comfortable getting wet and may want to bring their own snacks and water bottles. 

Participants who have their own canoes or kayaks are welcome to bring them but the watercraft must have a Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge sticker or day pass, available for purchase at “Breaking the Surface.”  

Check-in is from 1 to 2 p.m. followed by a brief welcome at 2 p.m. Afterward, organizers will provide instructions for beginner paddling and kayaking. Open paddling will take place on the lake from 2:30 to 5 p.m. During that time, there will also be three guided hikes to introduce participants to the center’s new trail-building initiative.   

A closing circle will follow at 5 p.m. and the event wraps up with a paddler’s social ending at 6:30 p.m. 

The “Breaking the Surface” event is free and open to the public. However, organizers request that those planning to participate RSVP in advance, if possible, to allow adequate planning. Call 618/453-1121 or email tonec@siu.edu. Walk-ins are welcome that day.

The evening before “Breaking the Surface,” the Reel Paddling Film Festival will come to the SIU Student Center Auditorium. Some of the world’s best paddling films will be shown from 7 to 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome and there is no cost to attend. 

To learn more about the community paddling program or other Touch of Nature activities, facilities and services, visit www.ton.siu.edu