Win big prizes this summer solstice. To celebrate all that is paddling we are providing opportunities to connect with your community and reflect on what draws us to the water. By entering into our short essay and photo contest, you can show off your creative side and tell the world why you love to paddle.
Summer Solstice Celebration
Get to know your paddling community better by organizing or attending a paddling event over the Summer Solstice! Publicize your event on the ACA Website with this Event Calendar Submission Form and we will help get the word out.
Want to get involved but not sure how? Contact our Communications Coordinator with any inquiries.
2023 ACA Summer Solstice Celebration Events
June 20 – 24 | Paddle Under the Midnight Sun | Palmer, Alaska
June 20 | Summer Solstice Kayaking 101 – Paddle Perry | Tell City, Indiana
June 21 | Summer Solstice with Long Beach Sea Scouts | Long Beach, California
June 21 | LA River Summer Solstice Paddle – Los Angeles Kayak Club | Los Angeles, California
June 21 | Summer Solstice Evening Paddle | San Diego, California
June 21 | Royal Gorge Community Float | Cañon City, Colorado
June 21 | Golden Community Rodeo | Golden, Colorado
June 21 | SYOTR Summer Solstice on the Farmington | Simsbury, Connecticut
June 21 | Community Paddle with Tampa Bay Kayak Anglers | Dunedin Causeway, Florida
June 21 | Paddle into the Summer Solstice | Tampa, Florida
June 21 | Hui Wa’a Kaukahi Summer Solstice Paddle | Kapolei, Hawaii
June 21 | Quad Cities Kayakers Group Summer Solstice Paddle | Cleveland, Illinois
June 21 | Summer Solstice After Work Paddle with Paddle Perry | Cannelton, Indiana
June 21 | Kansas City Summer Solstice Paddle | Shawnee, Kansas
June 21 | Summer Solstice Paddle with Green Waters Paddling | Stanford, Kentucky
June 21 | Paddle Cape Cod Summer Solstice Celebration Tour | Eastham, Massachusetts
June 21 | Cape Cod Explorer Kayak Tour with RideAway Adventures | Mashpee, Massachusetts
June 21 | Summer Solstice City of Birds Kayak Tour | Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 21 | Summer Solstice Heart of Minneapolis Kayak Tour | Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 21 | Level 1: Flatwater Kayak Safety and Rescue Skills Assessment | Gulfport, Mississippi
June 21| Adventure Days: James River Kayaking | Springfield, Missouri
June 21 | Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse Summer Solstice Celebration | Hoboken, New Jersey
June 21 | SUP New Jersey Summer Solstice SUP | Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey
June 21 | Adult Kayak Lesson with Breakaway Excursions | Auburn, Ohio
June 21 | Summer Solstice Sunset Paddle | Mount Vernon, Ohio
June 21 | Solstice Pop-up Paddling | Mt Pleasant, Pennsylvania
June 21 | AMC Narragansett Summer Solstice Paddle | Providence, Rhode Island
June 21 | Summer Solstice Paddle Day at Congaree National Park | Gadsden, South Carolina
June 21 | Boy’s Home Leader Training Paddle | Daleville, Virginia
June 21 | Summer Solstice Paddle Meet-up on the Sarapiqui River | La Virgen, Costa Rica
June 22 | Level 1: Introduction to Kayaking Skills Course | Gulfport, Mississippi
June 22-25 | Freshwater Paddler Sea Kayak Symposium | Cornucopia, Wisconsin
June 23 – 25 | DemoFest – Zoar Outdoor | Charlemont, Massachusetts
June 24 | Remada de Solsticio | San Isidro, Argentina
June 24 | Summer Solstice Paddle | Gurabo, Puerto Rico
Congratulations to the 2023 Essay & Photo Contest Winners!
1st Place: Kim KarbonRead More
1st Place: Kim Karbon
Today is the longest day of the year and I am paddling because there’s no better place to be on the summer solstice in Cleveland, Ohio. When COVID came and the world shut down, we inadvertently developed a close-knit, safety conscious sea kayaking community. We now have a regular crew of paddlers who are excellent friends both on and off the water. We bond, we gossip and joke, and we encourage each other both in paddling skills and in our personal lives. We practice all types of skills and teach each other new things frequently. We’re all now proficient in rescues, towing, and rough water situations. I literally trust these people with my life.
Josh is a skilled outdoorsman, and he is always willing to lead a trip or teach us a new activity. Hannah is our nature-lover and gentle soul. We love to see her sing in community choirs. Kerry is our snack provider and biggest cheerleader. If you’re feeling down, just talk to Mama Kerry and you’ll be feeling better in no time. Liz is our social justice warrior and independent trailblazer. She loves to find us meaningful events from safety boating at a triathlon to marching in a protest. John is a skilled artist and handyman. He has helped us with numerous projects from fixing a front door to teaching me how to cut a mat for a photo frame. I am the photographer and comic relief.
These are my people and my chosen community. We all have one common love for kayaking and our Lady Erie (as we affectionately call her), and we all have generous and giving personalities. I love that we are so very different but unite easily all because of one common passion. These are people I learn and grow from. These are people I am proud of. I can trust each of them to do something as simple as pick up a piece of trash or two on our paddle, all the way to helping tow back a sinking kayaker who apparently wasn’t aware of freighters on our Mighty Cuyahoga.
My friends are the perfect example of being a good steward of our waterways. There are countless ways we help promote a safe and healthy lake and river. We have participated in both taking and teaching kayaking safety classes, we volunteer for “clean the river” events, sign up for local kayak races which celebrate the return of a healthy Cuyahoga River, educate and assist other kayakers both on and off the water. We have scoured Facebook ads to help people
find the perfect kayak for them, or perhaps learn to load and safely tie down their kayak. We often swap gear or lend gear to others, to help people make the most educated decision on what’s best for them.
So yeah, today is the longest day of the year and I am paddling because this is my favorite activity and my favorite people. I’ll surely sleep well tonight, my soul nourished both from our beautiful lake and these beautiful people.
2nd Place: Jackson BichselRead More
2nd Place: Jackson Bichsel
“A Question Answered with Love” by Jackson Bichsel
There are some days during the sweltering summer when my resolve is shaken, and I ask myself a question that is so often lingering in my subconscious – why? Why do I put my body through the hardships of training? Why do I rise with the sun to lay my kayak on the glassy river? Why do I travel hundreds of miles to compete for a medallion with value only to a select few? What drives me forward, a loud buzzing that fills my entire being? Some mornings I take a moment to really consider these thoughts.
The answer is that of the great love that I personally have for sprint kayaking. Practices when the sun sets and fills the sky with a swath of colors greater than the rainbow. Early morning laughs when you’re too tired to think straight. The magic of night sprints under the bright lights on a river you love. The way the waves wash around my boat, licking at my hands, playfully swirling below me. The way the sun presses down upon my shoulders, sometimes with a kind warmth that burns the cool morning mist
away, and sometimes with a harsh strength that makes my body strain to keep on its course. These are the joys which are inside my heart. Yet, I am reminded by a splash of movement of the great joy that always
I look around and see the sleek boats gliding through the water, a flotilla of unity, paddles hitting the water in the same moment, each one stretching toward its dreams. Each boat is strikingly unique, noticeable by the different colors and patterns, the different sizes and designs, the people they hold. Each person brings a rush of memories to the surface of my mind, the time I was comforted after a devastating race, the disappointment of those last few strokes with my boat partners, the elation of victory shared with all. There are the others, while not here now, that are also brought to mind. The many boat partners from across the country who I have paddled with, the warm conversations that occur just before the start of a race, the coaches from other places who have mentored me and taught me things I never could have imagined. These thoughts and memories fill me with warmth, like sparks to a campfire, and remind me of the answer for which I was seeking.
It is in these enduring experiences and feelings that I discover the explanation I was searching for. I paddle not only because I feel at home with the touch of the paddle, the sound of the boat, the taste of the spray, the sight of the sun, and the smell of the breeze. I paddle because when you do something that you truly, undeniably, love you can experience a wealth of joy. And when you do it alongside your friends, your teammates, your paddling family, that joy increases hundredfold into something unimaginably beautiful that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
3rd Place: Martin WelchRead More
3rd Place: Martin Welch
In 1995, after fleeing Southern California with my wife and son, and suffering a particularly cruel winter in Park County, spring came.
Suffering cultural shell-shock, and still shivering, we drove down to Canon City to thaw out. When I beheld the river in all its muddy, raging glory, I was both impressed and repulsed- intimidated and intrigued. At that time, I could never have imagined how this wild, foaming torrent would impact our family’s life.
While I had grown up on the coast, lived on various beaches, and was an avid waterman and commercial diver, the whitewater world was totally foreign. My exposure to whitewater adventure was basically confined to Splash Mountain.
We moved to Canon City, and I went rafting a few times. The guides were great. They reminded me of surfers, but happier; a fearless tribe of smiling, hairy people who wore PFD’s and strap-happy sandals like formal attire- an itinerant clan that mysteriously appeared when the river rose and vanished just as quickly before the leaves changed.
In the ensuing years, we had two more sons, Blake and Ashton. Blake, our eldest, would become a local raft guide (within moments of his 18th birthday) and kayaker. Eventually water would define his professional life as he became one of the youngest Dive Instructors in the country, going on to work at the Virginia Beach Aquarium.
Ashton was never river inclined, but was a proverbial fish on our annual family beach trips. We took our SUP boards and paddled together in the pristine waters of Grand Cayman, under languid Caribbean, rose gold sunsets. We paddled on the brilliant, teeming Mesoamerican Reef in Belize. We paddled the blue Atlantic in choppy, wind tossed waves by the Frisco pier in the OBX. We had so many great times together on and in the water, but not yet on the river.
In 2014, Whitewater SUP was becoming a thing and I was ready to jump in. I marched into CKS during Paddle Fest, and stunned my amazing wife by dropping an absurd amount of un-budgeted money on a 10’6” Starboard Whopper Deluxe SUP with all the toppings, and it was on. This beast of a board paddled like a fully loaded tanker, but it was this radical impulse-buy that launched me into the whitewater world.
Many years and boards later, I was invited to become a board member of the Royal Gorge River Initiative Organization, or RG RIO, by Chris Moffett. It was through this that I was inspired to become a Level 4 ACA SUP Instructor, which would allow RG RIO to offer our local community free SUP instruction. Since that time, I have served as RG RIO’s and Canon City’s de facto SUP ambassador. The friendships I’ve made are invaluable and the work I’ve been a part of, helping to preserve, promote, and improve the Royal Gorge region of the Arkansas River, has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.
My son Ashton also became more interested in the river around this time, and even volunteered at some RG RIO community events such as our Annual River Clean Up and Whitewater Festival. I even convinced him to SUP with me on the river! In July of 2021, I suddenly realized Ashton had never been rafting and was thoroughly appalled at myself. How could this happen? He had never asked to go, but I had clearly failed as a father. I called Chris, and he agreed to take Ashton and I down the Gorge in his 10 foot Hyside. It was a perfect sunny day with perfect water levels and the best rafting trip of my life- but most of all it was a perfect day with my remarkable son Ashton.
On November 15th, 2022 Ashton was tragically killed by a drunk driver. He was 18. The months since have been the blackest days of our lives. Sweet memories, such as our times on the water, both soothe and stab our hearts. Pictures and videos of our family adventures serve both to bring smiles and tears and it seems at times like the sun may never shine again. Yet, I’ve since found my time on the water especially precious, and the times of greatest peace.
I will be paddling on this Summer Solstice, the longest and brightest day of the year, in memory of our bright, shining light taken much too soon, in hopes of brighter days to come.
Essay & Photo Contest Details
This Summer Solstice, the ACA is wants celebrate paddling and our wonderful community. Submit a short (max. 750 word) essay and photo about why you are choosing to spend the longest days of the year on the water, paddling.
If you would like to promote this event with in your community, please don’t hesitate to print and distribute the Summer Solstice Essay & Photo Contest Flyer!
Prompt: “Today is the longest day of the year and I am paddling because…”
Theme: Unity – We are a unique and eclectic group of people unified by our love of paddling. We want to know what makes paddling special to you and why it is important to protect the waters that we love to paddle.
1st Place Prize
- New 2022 Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360
- Windows 10 Home
- Intel Core i7
- 13.3” Touchscreen
- 8 GB memory
- River Station “Eterna” – Mesh Gear Duffle Bag – Large – 75L
2nd Place Prize
- $500 NRS Gift Card
Submissions have now closed for the 2023 Essay & Photo Contest.
Terms and Conditions:
- Less than 750 words
- Written in English
- Submissions accepted April 22 – June 30
Judging Criteria (Points/100)
- Relevance to the theme – connection to the prompt (20 pts. possible)
- Comprehensiveness – how complete the writer’s description and explanation of why they love to paddle (20 pts. possible)
- Originality – uniqueness, novelty and authenticity of ideas (20 pts. possible)
- Insights – a fresh way of looking at things, critical exploration of what makes paddling special (20 pts. possible)
- Quality image accompanying essay (20 pts. possible)
- Winners will be announced on July 21
- Winning essays will be published on the ACA website
- Winners will be contacted by email
- Prize will be sent via mail or email as appropriate within 1 month of notification
You retain your rights to your photograph; however, by entering the contest, you grant the ACA a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion of paddlesports through the ACA’s website, social media accounts, and email correspondence. Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible.
2023 Photo Gallery
Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse
Los Angeles Kayak Club
Escuela de Kayak
Paddle Cape Cod
Appalachian Mountain Club - NarragansettRead More
Appalachian Mountain Club - Narragansett
AMC Narragansett Summer Solstice Celebration Recap by Mark Allio
Rhode Island, known as the Ocean State, is the smallest state in the US, but has over 400 miles of coastline, and is said to contain over 365 lakes and ponds, one for every day of the year. This is a paddling paradise, and we have a small community of more than 40 certified ACA instructors here, where we celebrate a rich maritime history and culture. Water is all around, including rivers, lakes, ponds, Narragansett Bay (comprising a third our state’s area) and the Atlantic Ocean. We also are home to 40 micro-breweries, one for each instructor (;)
In celebration of this heritage, and in response to ACA’s call for a Summer Solstice Paddle, our small group of Appalachian Mountain Club Narragansett Chapter paddling leaders (Linda, George, and me) set out on a “urban” blended (SUP and kayak) paddle departing from our state capital of Providence northward up the Seekonk River (which traces its name to a Wampanoag (Native American) word for Canada geese (“Seaconcke”) just south of the mighty Blackstone River. The freshwater Blackstone becomes the brackish Seekonk before flowing into the head of Narragansett Bay. Along the way we passed the iconic Crook Point Bascule Bridge (forever frozen upright since its retirement in 1976), the Narragansett Rowing Club, and hundreds of swans lining the eastern shore (perhaps the namesake for the famous historic Swan Point Cemetery which abuts the western shore). After an hour or so we reached the waterfall and railway which mark the confluence of the 10 Mile River, home to the Roger Williams Water Trail, named after the “founder” of the settlement of Providence who was the first to establish honest relationships with the original inhabitants here, the Narragansett and Wampanoag people. The weather was blustery, and we were thankful not only for the current and wind at our backs as we returned to the Gano Street boat launch, but also for this place where whether by canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, raft, or sculling rowboat, one can enjoy the beauty of nature and paddling. Thanks to our ACA colleagues for continuing to remind us to celebrate this gift through gatherings like the Summer Solstice Paddle.