Recap: 4th Annual Women on Water Paddling Festival

4th Annual Women on Water group shot

If you run in the same social media circles that I do, you’ve likely seen the header to this post floating around.

This picture (which I took and am happy is being shared) represents four and a bit months of work as the event co-coordinator, three days of nerves as a first-time canoe instructor at this event, and sheer relief that everyone seemed to have so much fun.

This was the fourth year that Wild Women Expeditions and Ontario Sea Kayak Centre collaborated to put on this fantastic event.

Women on Water 2017 by the Numbers

87 participants

18 instructors

10 camp staff

50+ kayaks

25+ SUP boards

5+ canoes

and SO MANY yoga mats


Our instructors offered beginner and intermediate level workshops in sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), tandem and solo canoeing, and for the first time this year: yoga classes all day Saturday and Sunday.


The fabulous Jennifer Holub managed the music around the campfire Friday night and the festivities after our marketplace and silent auction Saturday night. Women lip-sync’ed, hula hooped, and danced the night away.

Personal Experience

Because I wore more hats than I usually do at this event, I didn’t get to take many photos. You can check out some of the public photos and recaps here, here, and here and / or you can check out my 2016 recap here.

I can tell you now, in hindsight, that I absolutely needed to be at this event. I had learned on Saturday morning that a dear friend had passed away after a three week battle in ICU. I wanted to go home. Russ wanted me to stay. I stayed and leaned heavily on my Wild Women Expeditions colleagues to carry me through the rest of the weekend. They did so with grace, love, and compassion.

I don’t think of myself as a “the show must go on” kind of person. Somehow we all dug in and made it work. I found the time on the water and interacting with women to be the right kind of distraction. I took time when I needed it at night. The weekend and all of its activities came together as the smoothest of the years we’ve run this event.

And for that I have a lot of relief and gratitude.


If this sounds like your kind of event, you can sign up here to be notified when 2018’s is open for registration.

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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