The Guadalupe River glistened as the sun peaked through the clouds Thursday morning shining over several multi-colored kayaks floating on the surface.
In them were a group of Seguin ISD students paddling around ready to make their way up the river in celebration of their final day of Paddle Seguin, an annual MatCamp.
For four days, the students learned the ins and outs of kayaking while getting to experience the river that flows in their own backyard.
“We’ve learned the different stroke techniques of the paddles, how to use them properly, safety and how to help each other in times of need,” freshman Cristiano De La Rosa said.
Starting the summer kayaking was not something Cristiano — who was already suited up in a life jacket to hit the water — had initially planned to do.
“It was an accident that I’m here, but it was a happy accident because it’s fun here. I was really looking forward to going to Skys the Limit Camp, which is basically you go to El Paso to the mountains of Texas and you learn about geology, astronomy and biology,” he said. “I wanted to do that, but my mom accidentally put me here. I’ve made new friends, spent time on the river all day. It’s a fun workout for yourself.”
Sixth grade Sebastian Garcia agreed that kayaking is a workout, but it’s worth it.
“I was too old to go to like a day care or camp for elementary so me and my mom were looking online and we saw this camp,” he said. “We thought it would be fun. You get a great exercise while getting to lay back and relax.”
Hosted annually, Paddle Seguin is one of 22 Matcamps organized by Seguin ISD that focus on offering students experiences they wouldn’t necessarily have in the classroom.
When registration opened up for Paddle Seguin before the school year ended, sixth graders Rylie Wilke and Ella Kennington jumped at the opportunity to sign up.
“This year we went to H-E-B Camp and we did the kayaking there. It was really fun and we wanted to do it again,” Rylie said.
Aside from learning how to paddle, Pete Silvius, the Seguin ISD outdoor and physical education coordinator, said the students are exposed to Seguin’s three paddling trails.
“Seguin is very fortunate to have three Texas Parks and Wildlife Trails so that’s a resource in this town we really need to use more,” Silvius said. “There’s not as many people kayaking as I think we probably should have. Hopefully, this will be a new generation of people that use our river to recreate and spend time with their families and friends.”
Thursday morning the students launched on the lower side of the river from River Shade RV Park while the other two spots are up near Starcke Park, Silvius said.
Over the last four days the students have shown some significant progression on their kayaking skills, said Lucas Alaniz, an eighth-grade social studies teacher.
“It’s been really great for these kids. When we introduced all the skills on how to kayak, maneuver, you really saw it come together on day three,” he said. “All those skills seem to come naturally. Just to see them develop has been great.”
Silvius added that the students’ confidence levels transformed in no time.
“By the time we get to this day four, they are changed kids. You can tell they’ve developed a love of paddling, a love of the water,” he said.