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Boating fun at George L. Smith State Park

by Traci Schumacher on Tue, 04/23/2013 - 2:23pm
Floating through the cypress trees
Happy boaters

This past weekend our family headed to George L. Smith State Park, near Metter, with hopes of canoeing in the lake there. The trouble with a family of five, with young kids, is that we don't exactly fit into canoes very well. The rental canoes at the park carry no more than two people each. So with three kids unable to handle a canoe and only two adults, we selected one canoe and one john boat, and off we went.

It was a beautiful day – cool and sunny with no bugs. Perfect! We had never taken the children out in paddle type boats, so we were eager to see how they would like it. My husband and the two boys took the john boat. The boys loved it. The lake at the park is dotted with cypress trees, and it quickly became a game to slip the boat between the different tree clusters. My 7-year-old son sat up front paddling and grinning, while our 3-year-old mostly peered over the side of the boat happily.

My daughter (age 9) and I opted for the canoe. After explaining the need to sit still and not stand up in the canoe in order to avoid tipping over, we paddled out. My daughter sat in the front, unmoving, with her paddle across her lap. Within a few minutes she was ready to return to dry ground, afraid of every little wiggle of the canoe. I was a bit disappointed and not nearly ready to turn back, so we kept going, following our guys.

About twenty minutes into our two-hour boat rental, my daughter became more adamant about going back to land. So I placed my paddle across my lap and told her we could go back if she would get us there. Hesitantly, she started to paddle. As she did, she began to discover just how the paddle controls the canoe to make it go where you want it to go. She gained some confidence and moved us along a bit. I wouldn't really let us go back so soon, but the more she paddled, the more she enjoyed herself. She realized she had some degree of control, and started telling me which side I should paddle on as we floated between and around the trees. She was starting to have fun.

The icing on the proverbial cake was when my daughter spotted an osprey nest atop a dead cypress tree. We saw the osprey chick's head poking up as he called out for his mom. My girl is a true animal lover and this was a special moment for her. It was something she never would have seen from the shore. By the time we returned to dry land, my daughter was asking when we could go canoeing again.

After turning in our boats and gear, we let the kids play on the park playground. Then we explored around the covered bridge and trails before heading home by way of Statesboro, where we ate at Holiday's Greek and Italian Restaurant, one of our favorite places for Greek and Italian food.

It was a nearly perfect day. My husband and I were happy that everyone had fun, and we were so proud of our daughter for overcoming her fear and finding a new pastime.

For more information about George L. Smith State Park, go to their link http://gastateparks.org/net/go/parks.aspx?LocationID=25&s=0.0.1.5.

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