4 Life-Lessons From Kayaking Retreats

This summer I had the privilege of leading two groups of women to the Apostle Islands Wilderness for yoga and sea kayaking.  To be totally honest, there were some bumps along the way as there are whenever we as people go out of our zone of comfort.  

The women who showed up for these retreats were courageous and willing to be with the unknown.  As the leader and part of the group, here are some things we learned!

Laughter is GOOD Medicine.  

On the second trip particularly we had delightful moments of laughing so hard it hurt.  It brought me back to a child-like playfulness I rarely tap into.  I’ll admit, sometimes I am waaaay too serious.  I want to have, be, and do it all, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.  

The laughter on this trip reminded me that laughter diffuses negativity and can actually propel us forward with a sense of ease and lightness.  On a bio-chemical level, laughter releases lots of dopamine, which is a “happy” chemical for the body.

Good weather is nice, good people are better :-)

The July trip we didn’t have ideal weather.  In fact the second night, we endured a huge thunderstorm.  Amazingly, none of our stuff got soaked (yay for modern tents!  Remember the tents that if you touched the walls you got soaked….?).  Even though we had less than great weather, it was awesome how that didn’t “dampen” our moods.  We still had fun.  Joked about it.  And we turned to what was going right.

Give yourself permission to be a beginner.

Props to the many women on these trips who didn’t have much (or any) camping and/or kayaking experience.  It takes courage to go on a trip like this and to let yourself learn.  This is also a lesson that I took on for myself as well.  While this is my second year leading the kayak expeditions, I’m still learning how to optimize the experience for the participants. 

We’re in this together.  

One of the real beautiful things about bringing trips like into fruition is witnessing the participants help each other out.  Whether it was with paddling tips, boosting morale, or helping set-up tents, it struck me how generous people were.  People looked out for one another.  Shared snacks.  It was uplifting to be a part of this experience, and I wonder, what would it be like if we brought more of this “in this together” mentality into every aspect of our lives (work, home-life, relationships).

There are some of my reflections on the summer kayaking expeditions.  Resonate with any of these lessons?  Let me know in the comments below :-)