Health Life + Arts

Paddling brings summer fun for students

Anything involving water is suitable for recreation in Texas mid-summer heat. With water all around us, paddling has been named the outdoor activity of the month by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.


Paddleboarding began as an easier method for surfers to get out to waves, and it has become a sport of its own and was featured at the recreation center for “Paddle Board Yoga.” Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The three most popular paddling activities are canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Though canoeing and kayaking seem very similar, the type of vessel determines the name of the activity.

According to Better Health Channel, “a canoe is an open vessel and a number of people either sit or kneel inside the canoe and uses a single-bladed paddle to push the craft, while a kayak is an enclosed vessel and only one person sits inside the kayak with legs extended and uses a double-bladed paddle.”

Although paddleboarding seems to be fairly new, it dates back to the 1770s. Surfers started doing it when they wanted an easier way to get out of the waves. It has recently gotten popular; just a few months ago the UH Wellness and Recreation Center offered paddleboarding yoga classes.

Danielle Jones, a education sophomore, said that paddleboarding has been her best experience.

“Paddleboarding is a good source of exercise, and it is amazing watching your friends fall off of their boards every 5 seconds,” Jones said. “You don’t have to be a professional or know what you are doing, it is just fun to get out there and try it.”

Jones has paddleboarded in Austin and kayaked in Mason. She said has been doing this since she was seven years old.

“Paddling… takes you out of your comfort zone, and gives you a new fun activity to explore that you usually wouldn’t do,” Jones said.

UH alumna Rachel Fuller shared her favorite experience with kayaking.

“My best experience was two weeks ago kayaking with my family at MacArthur Beach Park in North Palm Beach, Florida. It is an estuary so it attracts all kinds of wildlife. It was manatee migration season and I was praying to see some manatee,” Fuller said. “We saw three manatee grazing in the seagrass. Then we saw a dolphin too and some starfish that were as big as our faces.”

Electrical engineering sophomore Nelson Grajales also said he loves to kayak. “I always like going up to Austin and every time before I leave, I have to go kayaking,” Grajales said. “One of the times I went, I was with a couple friends and we spent the rest of the afternoon kayaking; it was an amazing time. Flipping each other over, taking breaks swimming in the water, and just relaxing with nature … it was great.”

The Department of Campus Recreation hosted a kayaking trip earlier this year and has hosted paddling-related trips before. For more information on the next trip featuring paddling, visit the Outdoor Adventure Office in the UH Wellness and Recreation Center.

If you have always wanted to go paddling but have never known where to go in Houston, you might not have to go far.

“Millions of people in the Houston metropolitan area cross over streams and bayous every day never knowing what sort of recreational opportunities are right in their own backyards,” said Eric Ruckstuhl, a wetland specialist for the Bayou Preservation Association. “There are a surprisingly high number of locations that one can go paddling.”

For a list of these trails, visit or

“Paddling is one of my go to things to de-stress. Its calming, relaxing, and helps me recollect my thoughts,” Grajales said. “The sound of the water, the sun, fresh air — it’s an overall enjoyable experience which is amplified with friends.”

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