Doug Tyrrell has every kind of canoe and kayak imaginable.
He’s put them all to good use too, introducing kids to the ocean through school and public programs.
For the past 18 years he’s run the marine adventure programing at Glenlyon Norfolk School starting the young kids with small adventures and working up to week-long excursions for senior students.
“It’s a full time program throughout the school season,” Tyrrell said. “When they get to Grade 11 and 12 in the school program, it’s more of an outdoor program where it’s a full year,” he said. Students start in September with training trips, working up to their self-planned and prepared trip as graduation approaches.
In the summer, he hosts public programs. Eden Wallis, who enters Grade 12 this fall at Mount Doug, has participated in three different trips developing what she expects will be a lifelong hobby of kayaking and camping.
“We go back every year, my friend and I. It’s really awesome to be able to pack everything you need for a week into a little boat,” she said. “Doug is the neatest. He tours us around all these little islands. It’s amazing. You feel like you’re on top of the world.”
In groups of seven or more, relying on each other to make the trip safe and enjoyable is a lesson well-learned, she feels.
“I put it on my resumé because I learned how to work with people in very close quarters,” Wallis said.
She also learned a healthy respect for the environment, and that, Tyrrell said, is by design.
“When you live on an Island and you’re almost completely surrounded by water, it makes sense to get out and see what the world looks like from that point of view,” Tyrrell said, adding that with a human-powered boat the sights don’t just “scream by.”
“You get to see and enjoy what’s there and explore all the nooks and crannies you can’t with a sailboat or a powerboat.”
Tyrrell hopes they learn all about the marine environment as he explains tides, winds, navigation and weather patterns.
“It’s easy to see, up close and personal, the effects of pollution and man and so on,” he said. “Having a seal pop their head out of the water close to your boat is quite exciting, especially when you’re not used to it.”
The program includes teen day camps for 11- to 14-year olds to one-week adventures, for those 15 and older, in Barkley Sound and on the Johnstone Strait.
“The idea is to give everybody a positive, fun experience. (Kayaking is) an easy thing to be able to do as young as 10,” Tyrrell said. “You can paddle when you’re well into your 90s.”
For more information on camps available this summer visit mygns.ca and search for marine adventure camps.