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Retired Lt. Col. Gerald Harper paddles his way up the New River while enjoying a summer sunset during Outdoor Adventures moonlight kayaking event June 3.

Photo by Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

Kayakers take to water in moonlight

3 Jun 2012 | Cpl. Damany S. Coleman

Active duty service members, retirees and families enjoyed a nice, long paddle down the New River last Sunday, just as the afternoon ended and the sun began to set.

Kayaking enthusiasts and newcomers to the pastime joined Outdoor Adventures for a sunset and moonlight kayaking tour down the New River in Jacksonville, N.C., Sunday.

After listening to a few essential safety rules, the kayakers splashed their way up the New River, through Wilson Bay, toward downtown Jacksonville for a three-mile, three-hour trip.

Marybeth LeMaire, recreation specialist with Outdoor Adventures, said those who didn’t show up missed out on the chance to see a beautiful summer sunset, an awesome moonrise and an overall relaxing experience.

Chad Wickwells, a recreation assistant with Outdoor Adventures, said Outdoor Adventures also offers hour-long kayaking tours, kayak voyages and paddle boarding, as well as many other outdoor recreational activities for groups and individuals.

“Moonlight kayaking specifically is about coming out and enjoying what there is in the area and on the river way,” said Wickwells. “It’s about inclusion and getting everyone on base involved.”

Wickwells added that while kayaking is a relaxing and calming experience, it can also prove to be a very strenuous workout.

“There is a technique behind rowing,” said Wickwells. “You’re supposed to use your whole torso instead of just your arms so they don’t tire as fast. Mostly inexperienced kayakers do this but within three hours, like the moonlight tour, your arms will be worn out. It is still a lot of fun.”

However, Wickwells said the tour wasn’t too physically demanding, and patrons took several breaks to photograph the event and to take in the scenery.

One of the moonlight kayaking participants, Retired Lt. Col. Gerald Harper, a kayaking guru, said he thought it was terrific, well run and a wonderful venue.

“This area is beautiful,” said Harper. “I’ve never kayaked off of Camp Johnson before, and I had a great time. The people who don’t know about these events missed an opportunity to see a different side of the Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville area. It’s a lot more outdoorsy side, and its interesting to see things from the water. It’s a different perspective.”

Providing a new perspective is the goal, said LeMaire.

“We want people to try something new, enjoy themselves and come back for more,” said LeMaire.

LeMaire added this is the third year of moonlight paddles, which seem to be a big hit, despite being off to a slow start with registrations this year.

“I’m sure by the fall it will get even bigger,” said LeMaire. “It’s definitely a good core, upper back and shoulder work out. For people who have not kayaked before I definitely recommend a one-hour paddle. If you want the moonlight tour to be your first, it’s going to be a tough three hours. It’s still worthwhile.”

The next Outdoor Adventures event is a visit to Extreme Adventures at the National Whitewater Center, Charlotte, N.C., June 9 and 10, and will include rock climbing, mountain biking, canyon crossing and a plethora of other activities sure to please any outdoor enthusiast.

For more information on Outdoor Adventures, visit