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Minneapolis Parks Foundation > Common Ground > People for Parks Fund > Paddle Day at Lake Nokomis Creates Access to Canoe and Camping Trainings for CLUES YA! Students

Paddle Day at Lake Nokomis Creates Access to Canoe and Camping Trainings for CLUES YA! Students

Friends of the Boundary Waters (BWCA) hosted their second annual Paddle Day at Lake Nokomis on June 17, 2022, which brought together 15 students and mentors from CLUES YA! (Spanish for: Latino Communities United in Service) which is Minnesota’s largest Latino-led nonprofit organization, founded to provide culturally and linguistically relevant services. The event, supported by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation People for Parks Fund grant, offered students the opportunity to learn canoeing, fire-building, team-building, and portaging skills.

After a brief welcome and introduction form BWCA staff and CLUES Youth in Action (YA!) Mentors and students, the CULES staff led the group in creating a vision board for their summer and the day’s activities. They then split up into two groups with one heading out into the lake for an immersive canoeing lesson and the other staying on land for trainings in fire-building, team building, portaging, and of course s’mores eating! After swapping activities, the entire group enjoyed a picnic from a local taco restaurant and received their free summer park kits to take home, which included a picnic blanket, a gas card, a water bottle, and two Wheel Fun Rentals free rental vouchers.

Briana Garcia-Saldana, CLUES YA! Program Coordinator was excited for the experience it offered her students, “for most of them, this was the first time they were able to participate in and practice outdoor adventures. It was inspiring to see the way students helped each other when they saw someone struggling. They all seemed to learn something new from each other, as well as gained new friendships.”

Images Courtesy of Friends of the Boundary Waters

Following the success of the 2021 Paddle Day event, BWCA’s team met with the CLUES team coordinators to discuss the highlights, challenges, and potential for growth for future events. A few things they came up with were extending the time for participants to canoe, changing the park location, and adding a few different items to their summer kits.

These changes were seen through adding the amount of time participants spent in canoes out on the water, changing the location from Hiawatha Park to Lake Nokomis, which allowed participants to see first-hand the location of the Wheel Fun Rentals, making it more likely they will return. Also, by switching the rental voucher to a free pass as opposed to last year’s half-off pass, it increased the accessibility and opportunity for everyone to come back and use this amenity. They also included a flyer with additional summer park events within their kits.

“It was great!” said Alison Nyenhuis, Education Director at BWCA. “The adjustments we made this year made for longer canoeing times, which the students really enjoyed. It was nice to collaborate with the group for a second year and get to know each other more. I hope to see lots of CLUES students out on the lakes this summer!”

Several CLUES students are going on Boundary Waters trips this summer, so Paddle Day offers a helpful introduction of the skillsets they will need out there. It is also a wonderful opportunity for students to explore their local parks and learn about the myriad of outdoor activities available to them throughout Minneapolis parks.

Images Courtesy of Friends of the Boundary Waters

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