< All Blogs

Guides Corner - Sun City Kayak Club

Guides Corner - Sun City Kayak Club
By Jack Wilde

Jack Wilde, one of our long time guides, shares his experiences about guiding this great group of seniors from Sun City Kayak Club.  We often put together customized club and group trips to Belize for outdoor clubs, paddling clubs, and other social clubs.  Sun City joined us for a week of paddling and play on Lighthouse Reef in January 2015!

"If we can do it, so can you!"

This was the war cry of the intrepid travellers from the Sun City Kayak Club, based in Sun City, South Carolina.  Sun City is a retirement community, or rather a group of communities, scattered across the southern U.S. And this one has a kayak club over 200 members strong. 

They usually paddle the placid rivers and coastal estuaries of the SE coastal plain, an area they call the low country. But this time, led by Bill Dickinson, who organises their excursions, and their president Rob Clark, a hardy core group of twenty one made their way to our camp at Half Moon Caye, for a week of snorkeling and paddling the waters of Lighthouse Reef.

Most of our groups are made up of a mix of couples, single travellers, and small clusters of friends or family members, and they take a while to get to know each other once they arrive. But these folks are all good friends and have done a large number of trips together. So instead of the usual quiet, attentive group, these were rowdy, talkative and lots of fun from the moment they arrived.

Our first activity is to introduce the people to our kayaks, and to make sure they have the basic skills needed for paddling these waters. We take our people through a demonstration of the wet exit, otherwise known as tipping over and falling out of your boat. Then the guests try it for themselves, closely supervised by a guide. For those who want to try to re-enter their boats in the water, we demonstrate several techniques, but do not require people to do it themselves. This group of people, mostly in their 60s and 70s, did not hesitate and all of them did an admirable job of climbing back into their boats.

The world-famous Blue Hole is ringed by a shallow reef, which is a popular snorkel spot. It is about 7 nautical miles north of our cay, so we usually ride up to it in the skiff. Not with this group. Most of them paddled there, on a sunny day in light winds, and the rest paddled back instead. And still that evening, they filled the dining hall with their energy, telling stories, laughing and poking fun at each other. 

The newest experience for most of this group was the sail to Long Caye, a distance of about three and a half miles. Winds were light, so the voyage was more of a relaxing excursion than an exciting race, but they loved the novelty of it. 

The lesson I learned from this active and fun-living group is that you are never too old to seek out new experiences, and to learn something new.  To this rowdy bunch of seniors, I say blue skies, fair winds, and thank you, for teaching this guide how to be young.