REI The Meadows Center teams up with REI Co-op for an informational outdoor experience


Photo courtesy of the Meadows Center.

Paddlers on a day time kayak tour at Spring Lake.

Brianna Benitez, Life and Arts Reporter

The Meadows Center and REI Outdoor School have partnered to offer environmental learning and outdoor activities at Spring Lake.

REI Outdoor School is a series of classes and tours led by outdoor experts that aim to teach outdoor skills and techniques. Classes and tours are held throughout the country in various cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Activities range from rock climbing to snow sports.

Anna Huff is the communications manager for The Meadows Center. Huff is responsible for spreading the word regarding upcoming projects to the San Marcos and Texas State community.

Huff said REI Outdoor School began the partnership with The Meadows Center in 2015 to provide kayak and stand-up paddleboard tours and classes.

“Classes and tours are a great opportunity for participants to practice a new skill and learn more about the important role of the San Marcos Springs,” Huff said.

Participants of these classes will be introduced to the basics of stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Instructors teach students proper stance, balance techniques and basic strokes. Paddleboards, kayaks, paddles and safety gear are all provided by REI Outdoor School.

Tour participants can look forward to learning about the clear water of the Edwards Aquifer and the history of Central Texas. Tours are beginner-friendly and 90 minutes in duration. Gear such as kayaks, life jackets, paddles and first aid kits are all provided by REI Outdoor School.

Cody Ackermann, experiences manager for REI, said he is responsible for leading tours, managing instructors and teaching paddling at Spring Lake.

“Tours are a great opportunity for paddlers to develop an appreciation for how beautiful the site is and learn about the culture and natural history of the lake,” Ackermann said.

According to the Texas State Historical Association, the San Marcos Springs are the second largest natural cluster of springs in Texas. The springs flow from three large fissures and 200 small openings located along the Balcones fault zone. The TSHA states the springs have an average flow of 150 to 300 million gallons daily.

Ackermann said the biodiversity and clear water of the lake are what make the tour experiences special. Paddlers and kayakers can anticipate seeing a variety of wildlife such as turtles, fish and aquatic plants on their excursions.

“It’s the clearest water in Texas,” Ackermann said. “The visibility creates a unique experience that really sets it apart and leaves an impression on people.”

Eli Cohen is a part of REI Co-op’s communications and experiences team. For the Fourth of July, Cohen attended a special evening kayak tour which featured a memorable private firework show.

Cohen said he frequently attends classes and tours at The Meadows Center. He said these events and services are a great opportunity to spend time outdoors and learn more about the local environment.

“Classes are a lot of fun and I love how knowledgeable the instructors are,” Cohen said.

REI Outdoor School provides daytime and sunset kayak and stand-up paddling tours. For summer 2019, REI Outdoor School has launched the nighttime kayak tour. For information on prices and dates, visit The Meadows Center website. Classes and tours take place during the summer and end in mid-September.

To stay up-to-date on upcoming events at The Meadows Center, follow them on social media @MeadowsC4Water on Twitter and @themeadowscenter on Instagram. For more information on REI Outdoor School, visit them online.

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