WALLINGFORD — River Advocates of South Central Connecticut was founded in 2016 with the goal of protecting and promoting the lower Quinnipiac, Mill and West rivers.
As part of the effort, Mary Mushinsky, executive director of River Advocates of South Central Connecticut, trains interns to be river guides and conduct kayak tours for special events or by request. Students ages 15 and older are encouraged to intern or volunteer at local events.
This past week, Mushinsky and four river guides took me kayaking on Community Lake in Wallingford. Kayak and canoe ramps are located on the outer edge of the lake across from the Quinnipiac Trail center pavilion. Here are five things to know about the kayak tours.1. Safety
“We are a primo safety organization” said Mushinsky, a Wallingford resident and a longtime state representative.
River guides are trained to properly fit kayakers with life jackets. Kayaking life jackets are slightly shorter than canoe vests and should be buckled, zipped, and worn tightly. The River Advocates have life vests sized for adults and children.
With adult supervision, children are encouraged to come along on kayak excursions.2. Workout
Paddling the kayaks requires arm and back strength. The core is also engaged as kayakers keep their center of balance throughout the excursion. Kayakers also must carry the boats down from the trailer to the water.
“You get a workout, upper body and then your legs get a workout taking the boat in and out” Mushinsky said. 3. Relax
Mushinsky said the wildlife along the rivers is quite impressive. While on Community Lake recently she saw a bald eagle, an array of herrings and deer. Mushinsky said that as you kayak into the Quinnipiac River entrance hidden on the outskirts of Community Lake, it doesn’t feel like you’re in Wallingford.
Thick greenery filled the narrow opening into the river almost completely enveloping the kayaks.
“It’s just very peaceful and relaxing” said Mushinsky. 4. What to bring
Mushinsky and the river guides come prepared for river tours with kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and whistles. It’s recommended that kayakers bring extra water, hats, and waterproof bags for electronics. Sunscreen and floating straps for eyeglasses are also essential items.
The life vests have zipper pockets to hold car keys and other small belongings. 5. Upcoming event
The River Advocates of South Central Connecticut will be participating in Wallingford Community Day on Aug. 24. The event, held at Community Lake, features outdoor activities, games, and music. There will be a movie showing at night in the pavilion.
Wallingford Health Department and Coalition for a Better Wallingford are among the many supporters of this event.
“We want to encourage people to come…so that we can introduce people to the river in a safe manner” said Mushinsky.
For more information about the River Advocates of South Central Connecticut tours and events, visit https://www.riveradvocatesscct.org/.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris– https://dearfitkris.com/
An earlier version of this story said Mushinsky was executive director of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association. She has left that position. It also reported that Mushinsky had recently seen a bald eagle’s nest at Community Lake. She spotted a bald eagle but no nest in the area.