Kayaking Fundamentals I

Gillson Beach or Skokie Lagoons
10am - 4pm

10am - 4pm

Skill Rating
Van Supported

Gillson Beach or Skokie Lagoons



All sea kayak equipment, instruction.
Not Included
Transportation, food and water, personal clothing and equipment. Cancellation policy applies.

This full day sea kayaking course provides novice paddlers (no experience necessary) the foundation for a fulfilling and safe kayaking career. Our certified kayak guides and instructors teach basic and intermediate paddling skills. This course is a must for anyone who wants to spend time enjoying the world’s waterways, be it tranquil flatwater or windswept surf zones, by kayak.

Schedule: Fundamentals I courses will run for 6 hours. We will meet 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the program at the southernmost part of Wilmette beach at Gillson Park in Wilmette (primary location) or the Skokie Lagoons in Winnetka (back-up location) depending upon the weather conditions and the temperament of Lake Michigan.. We ask participants to meet 15 minutes early to allow us to properly outfit you and ensure that you’re prepared.

Our instructors begin the program promptly at the scheduled start to the program. We cover a lot of material and important safety information right at the beginning of the clinic! If you are not there at the scheduled start time, you will be considered a no-show.

Parking: Parking is available on Michigan Avenue or on Middle Drive just off Sheridan Road at the park entrance. The Wilmette Police will ticket any cars parked right along the beach on Overlook Drive if they don’t have Wilmette stickers. Make sure to check your parking location! Upon arrival, walk down the main drive east into the park, continue heading straight for the Lake and look for the NWP kayaks and personnel at the end of the drive. You can also check with the park officials who will meet you just inside the main entrance to the park. Please call if you need additional information.

Location: If conditions on Lake Michigan are too rough for paddling, we will move the clinic to the Skokie Lagoon. Sometimes conditions inland are far different from conditions on the water.
Please call our location hotline at 847-920-4409 on the morning of your course after 9:00 AM to confirm its location.

Hi Keith – thanks very much for this information.  We both enjoyed our time with you very much, and do feel more confident both with regard to the feel of the boat and with our ability to handle a bit of waviness in the lake.   Thanks again.  -Derek Evanston, IL July 2017
The Kayak Seminar was wonderful. It was really good information and great practice. I've taken many intro kayaking classes and this is the best information and instruction I've received. Thank you!
-Kari Chicago, IL July 2013

I just wanted you to know that I had a fantastic experience at yesterday's Fundamentals class at the Lagoons.  Susan, Brian, and John were terrific and enthusiastic teachers.  It was a terrific experience, the first of what I hope will be many more with your company. - Julie P. - Chicago, IL

I had so much fun and learned a lot! Our instructors Alex and Elena were excellent, experienced, and patient. My favorite part was flipping the boats, and having time to practice what we had learned. An absolutely terrific experience! - Marisa A. & Annie S. - Chicago, IL

Our instructors Alex and Elena were professional, helpful, and patient. Lunch was great! Overall I was very satisfied with the program. - Linda H. - Oak Lawn, IL

I loved both of my instructors Elena and Alex! The instructors and lesson plan were excellent, and I had fun! My favorite part was flipping into the water. Great experience. - Kate L. - Northwestern University

On Saturday June 9, 2012 I took your Kayaking Fundamentals I course at Gillson Park. The head instructor was Susan with Will, Brian, and Haley. The class was small, likely due to the chill of the Lake Michigan waters. My intension was to learn some techniques and build confidence because I am going to the Apostle Islands with the Shedd Aquarium in July and I have little kayaking experience.

Frankly, I could NOT have landed in a better course. Your instructors took the time to explain, demonstrate, and provide encouragement to all participants. I was impressed with their skills and their ability to convey what was to be learned and why important. Since Susan had been to the Apostle Islands she put forth extra effort to help me learn skills I might need and to assure me I am learning.

Thank you for a delightful day and helping me learn skills and confidence in kayaking.   Aryliss L. Des Plaines,  IL

I took the Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking class. Our instructor, Ben, was an excellent teacher- he's obviously very experienced and really patient when teaching newbies like me. I felt so comfortable the whole time, I had been nervous about being in a kayak but by the end, felt completely at ease.

We learned the basics about the kayak, different types of maneuvers and how to rescue someone else or rescue yourself should you tip over.

We were in the Skokie Lagoons as opposed to the lake, which I think I'd prefer anyway; the water was calm and it's fun to travel along like on a river.

The class is an entire day long and yet I wanted to stay out longer. (My muscles are killing me this morning, so I'm not sure I would've made it out of bed if I had.)

-Amy M., Chicago, IL (taken from Yelp.com)

Discover the beauty of Skokie Lagoons, a nature preserve, located in Glencoe and Winnetka, Illinois. There are seven inter-connected lagoons totaling 190 acres. The water flow in the lagoons is controlled by the main control dam.

History Trivia: The site of Skokie Lagoons was previously a marsh.