Kids Kayak Clinic: Kayak, Swim, and Chase Waterfalls with Jocassee Wild Child this Summer

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If getting on the water this summer in perhaps one of the most beautiful spots in South Carolina is something you’d like to do, then a kayak tour with Jocassee Wild Child should be on your list. They invited us to try one of the tours so we could do this media review and we are grateful for the opportunity!

Jumping into Lake Jocassee on a Jocassee Kayak Tour
Photo by Kristina Hernandez

There are few places I’d rather be in South Carolina than at Lake Jocassee, the picturesque crystal clear lake in the middle of the Jocassee Gorges about an hour and twenty minutes from Greenville. I’ve kayaked all around the lake and my kids and I just love swimming and taking in the natural beauty. Jocassee Lake Tours is the premier outfitter at the lake who does kayak and pontoon boat tours, wild river adventures, rentals, and shuttles. Their kids kayak clinic is a new offering and is through Jocassee Wild Child Outdoor Education, an awesome nonprofit that seeks to connect kids with nature. I did their Wild Child tour and oh my gosh, it was amazing.

So when I had the opportunity to do a kayak clinic with Kerry, who also runs Wild Child, I jumped at the chance. Kerry McKenzie, if you read my Wild Child review, is an expert naturalist and kayak instructor. She is not only knowledgeable about the lake and its history and plants and flowers and animals, but she’s so kind and thoughtful, especially with kids. I have enjoyed learning all kinds of neat stuff from her but my kids just love her. She has a special way of interacting with kids, making them feel free and spirited out there in nature, encouraging them to explore and try new things. 

Kerry was our guide for the kids kayak clinic, which was a four-hour adventure on Lake Jocassee. Of all the times I’ve been out to Lake Jocassee, this time just flew by. We could have stayed out there for several more hours and not even noticed! 

Experience not needed

The kids kayak clinic is led by Kerry and is geared for ages 7 and up. Older kids can have their own kayaks and younger ones can go in a tandem with their parent or guardian. My 10-year-old had her own kayak and my younger one was with me in the tandem. 

If you’ve never kayaked, don’t even worry about it. Kerry will teach you how to hold the paddle, proper strokes, and how to feel at ease in the boat. It’s super easy and Kerry is an excellent instructor. 

You’ll get life jackets and a paddle and you’ll want to bring water and snacks as you’ll be able to stop for lunch on an island or waterfall. 

Kayaks on Lake Jocassee
Photo by Kristina Hernandez

Adventure is encouraged

The lake is filled with lots of small coves and beaches and islands. We headed right for a special little island about a 15 minute paddle away. We learned a little about the native Cherokee tribe to that area and how they may have lived at the time. We learned about how the lake was flooded by Duke Energy and covered a town that was situated in the valley (all the people got out, don’t worry). And we learned a bit about the different birds and plants we saw along the way. 

Once we got to the island, the kids immediately found a rock to start jumping off of and us adults explored a little bit around the spot. Kerry pointed out that sassafras grew there, which you can make tea out of. And hey, if you happened to be stranded there, there were some blueberries growing and you could make a little shelter of the oak tree leaves. Always thinking ahead!

The kids loved this part and the beauty of the surrounding mountains just doesn’t get old. We stayed there for a bit as the kids jumped off the rocks into the lake and swam around. We eventually got them to leave with the promise of lunch and a waterfall. 

Bad Creek Falls

The closest waterfall to the dock at Devils Fork State Park where we put in at is Bad Creek Falls, a smaller waterfall at the end of a beautiful cove with teal and green water. I always think the water at Lake Jocassee is fake. I mean, those colors can’t be real, right? They are and they are just stunning. 

Ok, so the waterfall is beautiful and though, small, has a pool at the bottom where the kids tried to catch fish. We didn’t have a rod. Or a line. They tried to catch them with their bare hands. It didn’t work but they had fun. 

Getting into a kayak from the water
Photo by Kristina Hernandez

We swam around there for a bit, found some millipeds and salamanders and then attempted to get into the kayak out in water where we couldn’t stand. Well, I didn’t do it. My daughter did after some instruction by Kerry. She nailed it. I was impressed honestly. I’m not sure I could have done that. 

Never a dull moment on Lake Jocassee

The weather that day was alternately cloudy and sunny but no wind and very calm water. It was beautiful. But the Jocassee Gorges are a temperate rainforest, which by its very name, means it rains a lot. I have never kayaked in the rain but that changed this particular day. 

We were about halfway back when we heard the pounding of rain on the nearby mountains and saw the clouds come over us. Then it downpoured. It was awesome. It was a warm day and the rain just made the water look so cool as big drops splashed all around us. There weren’t any waves and it was over quickly but it was such a neat experience. 

Be sure to bring a change of clothes so you can get into dry clothes for the drive home. 

What to bring to the Kids Kayak Clinic

Be sure to bring on your kayak tour: 

  • Sunscreen
  • A towel
  • A life jacket if you have one (if not, you’ll be provided one)
  • Snacks
  • Lunch
  • Water
  • A change of clothes

What to wear:

  • Bathing suit with rash guard if you want
  • Water shoes or shoes you don’t mind getting wet (not flip flops)
  • A hat

Booking your kayak clinic tour

I think kayaking on Lake Jocassee is one of the best ways to not only see the lake but to experience it up close. Taking a tour with Jocassee Wild Child is such a fun and unique experience and something that I’d recommend for true quality time with your kids. 

Jocassee Kayak tour
Photo by Kristina Hernandez

The kids kayak clinic tours run every other Tuesday starting June 14, 2022. Cost is $50 ages 7-15 and $55 ages 16+.

You can book your kayak clinic online.

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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