EcoBay Kayak teaches youth Whas’SUP in 10th year

Date Published: 
July 25, 2014

Coastal Point • Submitted : EcoBay Kayaking Adventures is now offering SUP Camp at James Farm. Pictured, instructors Mary Harmon and Carley Collins stand with EcoBay's first-ever group of SUP campers.Coastal Point • Submitted : EcoBay Kayaking Adventures is now offering SUP Camp at James Farm. Pictured, instructors Mary Harmon and Carley Collins stand with EcoBay's first-ever group of SUP campers.A decade ago, Lisa Daisey launched EcoBay Kayaking Adventures as an enthusiastic 26-year-old. Now in business a decade, Daisey still doesn’t need any added reasons to get excited about going to work every day — but after adding stand-up paddleboarding instructor May Harmon to the team to help run their first ever SUP camp, she’s got one anyway.

“It’s hard to do it. It’s consistently challenging,” said Daisey, who also owns Juice Box on Route 26 in Ocean View, of being an entrepreneur. “To make it 10 years — especially starting when I was 26 — I was like, ‘I just wanna take some people out kayaking,’ and now I have people calling every year, so it feels good. I would not be able to do what I do without all the amazing help I get to work with every day.”

As always, EcoBay offers its two-day kayak camps at James Farm, in addition to the its various other kayaking and SUP ventures, but now it also offers a daylong day-camp for stand-up paddleboarding, as well.

“They’re just thrilled. This is their dream, their bucket-list item for the summer,” said Harmon, who joined EcoBay as a Paddlefit-certified instructor. “I love teaching SUP to these kids. I love sharing my passion for fitness through the most empowering sport I have ever done in my life.”

The first-ever EcoBay SUP Camp took place last Monday at James Farm, which Harmon said is ideal for first time stand-up paddleboarders because of its shallow waters and distance from boat traffic.

“It’s very non-threatening. We’re not out where there’s a deep channel,” she explained. “Anything with the boats we don’t have to worry about it. We’re just very, very fortunate to have this wonderful area here.”

Both Harmon and Daisey are both appreciative of the opportunity to not only make use of the unique, scenic area, but to be able to help preserve it and try to emphasize the importance of doing so by sharing their knowledge with campers.

“[We] donate a portion of profits back to Center for Inland Bays to help support James Farm,” explained Daisey of the partnership. “It’s a park for the people, so the people need to take care of it. If Mary [Lighthipe] did not donate this, it would be developed, just like everywhere else. That’s why it’s so special.”

Lighthipe donated the 150-acre tract of land to be used for environmental and recreational use, and it’s now run by the Center for Inland Bays. Daisey is the only outfitter allowed to use the area. Aside from donating a portion of her profits to help preserve it, she also tries to make sure her campers respect the environment as much as she does.

“They’re sponges. They’re gonna take everything in that we learn,” she said after noting that her campers identified and learned about 80 different local species last year. “There’s so much more to see and learn if you just slow down a minute and take it all in.”

But the camp is more than just learning. Both camps offer a variety of activities including relay races, zinc face painting, scavenger hunts and practicing falling out of a kayak — which Daisey said is usually a favorite activity.

“I love asking them what their favorite part is,” she said. “I really feel like I have almost a 100 percent return rate.”

For Harmon, sharing her passion and teaching a new skill is the reward. She was particularly excited to be able to instruct campers all the way from Colorado in the SUP Camp’s inaugural session.

“This is taking off all over the country — rivers, lakes, wherever there’s water, they’re paddleboarding right now,” she said. “It was totally empowering when I got on a stand-up board. It was just one of the most empowering things I’d ever done in my life. You get out of it what you want.”

There are still between eight and 10 SUP camp sessions left in this summer, but as always, EcoBay still offers fitness classes, guided trips and sunset paddles, for both kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, for people of all ages. Visit www.ecobaykayak.com to find out more or call Lisa Daisey at (302) 841-2722.