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Greensboro News & Record - Paddlefest Gives Oars to Novices

GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD

 Paddlefest Gives Oars to Novices

 Monday, August 11, 2008

By J. Brian Ewing
Staff Writer

 It was all oars in the water this weekend at Camp Walter Johnson on High Rock Lake as the camp hosted the first High Rock Lake Paddlefest.

"What you see now is a huge boom in paddling and kayaking," said Terry Tester, one of the event's organizers.

With interest high and gas prices keeping many families near home for vacation, the group wanted to offer newcomers a chance to familiarize themselves with the sports, said Neal Conner, another organizer.

The weekend event included classes for beginners and rescue training.

Boy Scout Troop 448 of Salisbury was on hand to help with chores for the event. When they weren't running errands, the Scouts got a chance to swim and have fun.

Joshua Billingslea, 13, paddled around in a kayak. This is Billingslea's first summer with the Scouts and he said paddling alone was the most fun he's had all summer.

"It's not like a canoe where you have to talk to somebody else. It's your boat, you can go where you want to go," he said.

Mike Halligan, a guide with Durham-based paddling business Frog Hollow, gave Billingslea and others paddling pointers over the weekend. When he's not paddling, Halligan decorates discarded bottles he finds while kayaking and sells them.

Halligan said he wants to raise awareness more than make money.

"Picking up one or two bottles while you're out there can have a huge impact," he said.

Next year's Paddlefest is planned at Camp Walter Johnson for May 15-17. Find out more at http://hrlpaddlefest.blogspot.com.

Contact J. Brian Ewing at 373-7351 or brian.ewing@news-record.com