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Kids learn skills in canoe and kayak camp at Lanier
Campers venture to nearby landmarks
Campers from left: Jarrett Gray, 11, Katherine Rampacek, 8, John Cooper, 9, and Peter Plants, 12, paddle in a canoe Wednesday during the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club Day Camp in Gainesville. The camp, which lasts six weeks, gives children ages 7-14 the opportunity to learn canoeing and kayaking techniques. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club Day Camp

Dates: July 11-15 and July 18-22
Cost: $135 for members and $165 for nonmembers
Location: 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville, 770-287-7888

Registration closes at noon Friday for the upcoming week.

Jordan Battle, 11, enjoys playing with daggers.

Not the kind Peter Pan uses, but the kind that float on water.

"It's kind of like a kayak, but it's thinner and more wobbly, so it's better for games," said Battle, a rising sixth-grader at North Hall Middle School.

Battle is one of 27 kids at Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club Day Camp this week.

The camp, which has been going on for several years, focuses on teaching kids canoeing and kayaking safety and skills, as well as teamwork and responsibility, Camp Director Diane Duffy said.

Campers are split into two groups that canoe and kayak to nearby landmarks, such as the cliffs, Gilligan's Island and Laurel Park every day. Once at the site, they go exploring, play football and dagger games — such as sink the dagger and dagger polo — and give themselves mud baths, Duffy said.

Every Thursday, campers participate in Barge Day.

"All of us get on the dock, and we hook it up to the tow boat. We park the whole dock at Laurel Park, and the kids play kickball and have fun while we cook out," Duffy said.

She said on the way to Laurel Park, the dock goes slow enough so students can swim and kayak alongside it, and climb back on when they get tired.

"We have parents come to get them and say they come home and crash because they're so exhausted," she said.

The camp is the first kayak and canoe experience for rising DaVinci Academy sixth-grader Thomas Groover, 11.

"I think it's really fun," Groover said. "Probably my favorite thing is kayaking. I like being in my own boat."

Kayaking is also a favorite of 9-year-old Sebastian Prather, a rising fourth-grader at Gum Springs Elementary School in Jefferson.

"I think kayaks go faster than canoes," Prather said.

"Usually when I canoe all I hear is a lot of noise and it throws me off track."

Duffy said she hopes campers take away more than just the physical skills they learn at the camp.

"Safety's number one, but we just want them to learn and have a good time," she said.