[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on SILive.com, where I was a breaking news intern from January to August 2016.]
On a partly cloudy, slightly breezy and mildly hot July afternoon, Kayak Staten Island attracted scores of families and friends by the water in South Beach.
Those are just two words that could be heard being said by people to describe their experience to a handful of volunteers dressed in orange life jackets as they came off the boats and made their way back on shore.
The group provided paddles, sit-on-top kayaks, vests and paddling tips from experts for visitors looking to get in the water.
“I just love the opportunity we have to offer to expand the realm of possibilities for people, it’s a nice free adventure,” said Annette Pierce of New Dorp, Facebook coordinator and volunteer since 2009 for Kayak Staten Island. “My favorite reaction from people is when they say ‘I’ve never done this before. I had no idea how easy it is and that you had this on Staten Island.'”
Kayak Staten Island has been running on the borough since 2007. And summer after summer, it brings in 1,200 people per year, organizers said.
Jacky Keogh of Castleton Corners, Kayak Staten Island lead organizer, estimated that on what she called a “good” day, anywhere between 250-300 people come. While on a “really good” day 500.
“It’s a lot of work. Donations, sell tee shirts and fundraisers are just some of the things,” Krogh said regarding how it’s able to continue providing free kayaking on a yearly basis.
“I started this and it’s weird that I’m still going at it,” she added, “but I always think people need a sport or something that they’re good at.”