Jan?e Matteson is a little wary of technology. The more ubiquitous it becomes, she finds, it has more potential to keep kids indoors (a trend she has dubbed ?acute nature deficit disorder?). Jan?e, whose family?s roots have been growing in Morris for nearly 200 years, basically spent her entire childhood outside, learning fur trapping and duck hunting with her father on the banks of the Illinois River. So in addition to her deep passion for the outdoors, founding Kayak Morris was largely inspired by doing whatever she could to help kids, their families, and domesticated teddy bears spend more time in nature.
Kayak Morris offers kayak and canoe lessons, and in addition, patrons can borrow their largely new fleet for leisurely trips along the Illinois River, Mazon River, or Illinois and Michigan Canal, which are home to wildlife such as great-blue herons, bald eagles, coyotes and red-tailed hawks. The staff also lead guided ecotours, which teach kids and adults about natural resources and what they can do to preserve and protect them for future generations. Family-focused private campgrounds is adjacent to the State Park along the rivers? sandy shores invite groups to stay for monthly Glampouts (glamorous campouts) and spend their days taking advantage of potluck dinners, hiking, fishing, bike rentals, or guided kayak tours and to spend their nights watching a movie on Morris? outdoor projection screen as campfires crackle nearby.
With an armada of kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards at their command, Midwest Paddlesport Adventures' team spearheads expeditions to bodies of water across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Frequent trips include calming floats down the Fox River––which is densely populated by local wildlife––and Lake Andrea, a former quarry characterized by local rocks. The expert navigators safely guide groups to their destinations, pointing out animal tracks and majestic waterfowl and they commute to the office.
Founder Rick Sweitzer started the adventure travel company in 1983 before leading one of the first amateur dogsled expeditions to North Pole. Driven by his vision, the guides and instructors of The Northwest Passage lead travelers of all skill and fitness levels to some of the most dramatic terrain on the planet. Locally, the team leads outings around the Chicago area, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding classes on Lake Michigan to kayaking and camping trips in Door County, Wisconsin. As for the rest of the world, Northwest Passage sends it adventurers to conquer it locale by stunning locale during programs that include hiking across Europe, trekking to remote Polar regions, and dressing up like scientists to infiltrate Area 51.
Ian Jacobson, the founder of Chicago SUP and Wakeboard Chicago, grew up on the Lake, and started his board-top paddling program after his passion for the sport ignited during a trip to Hawaii. His love for the low-impact activity also feeds his interest in its safety; as he spreads awareness of the sport, he makes sure customers know when it's safe to venture out into calm or choppy water. His passionate team gathers a range of paddling certifications, such as ACA and WPA, and many staffers are equipped with official training in first aid and CPR as well as unofficial training in blowing bubbles. Some of the team honed their boarding skills on the waves of California and Hawaii, and several boast a background in stand-up paddleboard yoga and fitness instruction.
Dubbed "the epicenter for the paddle community in Chicago" by Chicago Now, Chicago SUP ignites Jacobson's passion for the sport of standup paddleboarding in others with rentals and instruction atop calm waters boasting sweeping skyline views. As shoulders, backs, and arms work to propel the boards forward under his instruction, the core engages to keep balance on the board, resulting in a full-body workout enlivened with the pleasure of sunny skies and the thrill of submarine sightings in Lake Michigan. The company was featured on NBC Chicago's 1st Look and in the Chicago Tribune, grabbing Jacobson attention for pioneering the relaxing full-body workout in the Midwest, as well as for their innovative board-top yoga classes (SUPyo) and SUPFit classes. In the 2013 Expedition Paddle Series, he and his team point paddlers toward attainable goals as they paddle decked in headlamps toward Navy Pier for fireworks, or simply take in the skyline at sunset or the full moon above.
Brothers Aaron and Asher Gershenzon and friend James Morro grew up in the city, but always possessed a passion for the outdoors. They practiced wilderness kayaking for most of their lives before earning their American Canoe Association certifications on Lake Superior. Each of them brings dual passions for their home city and outdoor sports to the company?s guided group and private kayak trips. Guided paddles change on every outing as guides blend downtown architectural commentary and little-known gangster stories with tie-ins to current events. Though each guide tells different stories, often interspersed with humor, all of them focus on environmentally friendliness. Paddling trips utilize a fleet of lime-green Confluence Watersports kayaks, and staffers often wear lime-green shirts?all of which render them easily identifiable from the riverwalk, but well camouflaged in supermarket produce sections.
Up to four guides lead groups of 15 kayaks or less and prepares them with a briefing on paddling techniques, rules of the river, and assurances of the stability of their wide recreation kayaks. The guides' watchful eyes and constant advice have instilled confidence in even the most unsure participants, When not guiding trips, staffers extend their easygoing atmosphere to their office?nestled across the river from the Centennial Fountain's Water Arc?where the storefront lies amidst the bustling city that surrounds it. Inside the shop, the owners' much-beloved pooches frolic around a hanging hammock.
The hustle and bustle of the city can’t touch the calm waters of Lake Michigan. There, on gently rolling waves surrounded by fresh breezes, Kayak Chicago hosts tours and lessons, and lets paddlers take to the waters on their own with rentals. Captained by Dave Olson, a kayaker for more than 20 years and outdoor educator for more than 10, the company entrusts certified instructors and guides with shaping the strokes of kayaking newbies. Their tours take aquatic explorers out on the lake at night to ooh and ahh over summer fireworks or along the Chicago River to survey the city’s renowned architecture and map out their next bank heist. The staff also plants patrons on standup paddleboards for introductory lessons or wave-top rounds of SUPYoga or SUPPilates.