Another great rendition of the Wisconsin Canoe Symposium was held June 16 – 19, 2016, again at Pine Lake Camp in Westfield, Wisconsin. Classes were offered from Beginner to FreeStyle Exhibition levels, including the ever-popular Creekin’ FreeStyle session; all were enjoyed by the participants! Some of the advanced classes were small sessions this time, with an instructor and one or two participants, allowing for some spectacular learning. Not to be ignored, the weather was warm and sunny, giving instructors no shortage of willing “victims” for rescue practice!
The event started Thursday afternoon, with people arriving at various times, and dinner served in the main hall. The Amorphous FreeStyle String Band rehearsed that evening in the gazebo, which many symposium participants attended and enjoyed.
Friday morning brought Special Topics classes, followed by Core Classes in the afternoon. After dinner the Giant Schlalom was held, featuring a mix of solo and tandem canoes, totaling 16 entrants. A late entrant was Peter and His Pet Dinosaur, hailing from Jurassic Park. The final entrant was Pine Lake Camp’s 29-foot War Canoe, paddled by a committee of diehard FreeStylers. Competing in a class of their own were two Camp staff people, paddling a solo sit-on-top kayak. After capsizing three times, they finished with a “world record” performance of 7 minutes and 11.95 seconds! That record may stand for a long time. The top Tandem Class competitors were Bruce Kemp and Anita LoVan, who piloted their Colden Starfire into a time of 1:45.67. Mike Venero took top honors in the Solo Class, with a time of 1:30.66 in his Bell Flashfire.
Following the Giant Schlalom, Tom Fink gave a presentation on the FreeStyle instructional videos he has planned, a work in progress. These will be recorded completely in 4K (Ultra High Definition) video, and the video quality on the big screen in the Retreat Center was awesome! We’re looking forward to seeing the completed voluntary project.
Saturday morning and afternoon brought more class sessions, as well as the Creekin’ FreeStyle class on the nearby Mecan River. As happened last year, the Creekin’ group spent too much time applying FreeStyle techniques in a functional setting, and were very nearly late for dinner. There will be some changes to the class format for next year, including a much more paddler-friendly launch site.
After dinner the FreeStyle Exhibition was held with 8 exhibitors, a nice mix of solo and tandem canoes. With musical accompaniment, it was predictably beautiful; and the other campers at Pine Lake really enjoyed it as well. It’s always nice to have an audience that includes folks in addition to our WCS participants.
The Candlelight Paddle closed out the evening with clear skies, a very nearly full moon, and three planets arranged in a straight line. It was outstanding!
On Sunday Morning, the final class sessions ran as scheduled. Following lunch, people started packing up, already anticipating Wisconsin Canoe Symposium 2017. FreeStyle event staff met with the Camp Director, and confirmed that we WILL do this again next year on Father’s Day weekend, June 15-18, 2017.
Many thanks to participants and instructors for all they added to this event… we couldn’t do this without you! Special thanks to Bruce Kemp and Anita LoVan, who brought to life the Candlelight Paddle, as well as the lawn signs that helped everybody get where they were going; Ron Young, who provided and managed the sound system; Anita Lamour, who led the Yoga For Paddlers sessions; and Tom Fink, for sharing his video efforts!