By Christina SteinerJune 28, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., June 28, 2018 -- Four people attended LETRA kayaking and paddle board classes at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA) lake last Sunday, June 24. Classes run Saturdays and Sundays until Sept. 2, but LETRA staff cancelled Saturday, June 23 classes due to strong winds.
Classes cap at 10 people for kayaking and five people for paddle boarding and cost $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 10 to 16. Classes began May 26. Times commence at 6 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. Sundays for kayaking; and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays for paddle boarding, which is similar to surfing.
Tenille Russell, Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) program manager and paddle board, kayak and hiking instructor, said participation turnout has been good, though weather dictates the outcome. Storms and/or high winds cause cancellations. Jack Rucker, FMWR recreation assistant, echoed that.
"Except for a couple of occasions where the weather didn't go well, we've had good turnout," Rucker said last week. "There was one weekend where we had more people, but we cap (at certain amounts), so we had to turn some away. Paddle boarding requires 'herding,' and it's harder to keep people together." In fact, Rucker or another FMWR staff member assist paddle boarders by riding LETRA in a boat. Russell, who's served on the FMWR LETRA staff for a year, said 30 to 40 percent of paddle board participants fall off their boards.
Russell explained further during the paddle board class. "Paddle boards are super hard to flip (capsize). If you do capsize, let your feet float behind the board."
LETRA participants may bring their own kayaks and paddle boards if they own them, and staff will help people get in and out of the lake. FMWR staff is also seeking Non Appropriated Fund (NAF) employees to teach kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. Interested people must be certified through the American Canoe Association, which covers all three sports.
Inquiring minds may go to their website at Americancanoe.org for more information. Russell said it costs about $300 to become certified.
FMWR won't pay, but interested sportsmen can volunteer off their costs, then apply and become NAF employees.
For more information on the above activities, people may call 580-442-5858/7066,visit, sill.armymwr.com or look up Fort Sill LETRA on Facebook.