Oswego Expeditions Kayak Tours Receives Recognition During New York State Canal Corp Visit – Oswego County Today
OSWEGO – Having an idea is good; experimenting with your idea is even better. And the experience is exactly what officials from the New York State Canal Corporation and New York State Power Authority did during their “On the Canals” tour in Oswego on Wednesday, July 27.
As part of their program, NYSCC and NYSPA traveled to the Oswego Port Authority to rally behind one of their kayak vendors, Oswego Expeditions.
Oswego Expeditions owner and operator Jenn Mays runs a multi-functional kayak and canal tour business out of the Oswego Port Authority’s Eastside Marina at 3 Basin St.
Mays began partnering with the Canal Corporation in February of this year, offering snowshoe expeditions along the Oswego Canal. Mays continued its partnership with NYSCC for the summer season with canal canoe trips.
The “On the Canals” program offers a variety of activities along the system, including kayaking, biking, water biking, boating, bird watching and painting.
The experience part of this story came at the end of Wednesday’s event – a kayak excursion for all participants.
Note: the author of this story also participated in the kayaking adventures in order to properly formulate his thoughts. For this particular writer, practice is the best teacher. I must admit that it didn’t take much to convince me.
After being properly fitted with a life jacket, kayak and paddle by Mays, the guest kayaks were gently guided through the water, one brightly colored vessel after another gliding effortlessly through the waterways of the Eastside Marina; paddlers soon maneuvering their kayaks into the Oswego River for sweeping harbor views.
You can’t help but feel totally connected in this type of environment – rays of sunshine glistening on the slow-moving waters, a touch of fresh lake air ever so softly brushing against your skin, drops of cool water splashing joyfully your body as you paddle, the sounds of a bustling city just out of reach – a true integration of the senses. Bewitching is the word I’m looking for…
Watching the cars pass over the Bridge St. bridge from the water, the site of huge freighters unloading their goods, and the Oswego lighthouse signaling me to paddle for a long overdue visit are just things I would have could imagine. You can feel the energy of the lake inviting you to stay longer. Envy is incredibly comforting.
Now I must take our readers back to the event itself. Before heading out on our mini-tour, attendees from the NYS Canal Corporation, NY Power Authority, Port, City, local and business officials spoke about the exciting opportunities “On the Canals” brings to every community. .
POA Board Chair Frances Enwright addressed the crowd, speaking about the social, emotional and economic impacts the waterfront projects have had on the port city.
“We are thrilled with Jennifer’s success here at the marina and celebrate our partnership with the NY State Canal Corporation to encourage kayaking and boating along the canal system,” Enwright said.
“I’m a sailor and I race sailboats here in Oswego, and I’m noticing so much more kayak traffic – of them going in and out with the boaters all the time. And I love watching those kayaks go out by the lighthouse and the beautiful sunsets here.
Also in attendance were POA Board Vice Chair Connie Cosemento; Assistant POA Director Pat McMahon, Assistant POA to Director Patti Scanlon; Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow, Shane Broadwell of Broadwell Hospitality Group; Canal New York’s David Granoff; and Dr. Robert Morgan of the H. Lee White Marine Museum.
NYSCC Director Brian Stratton spoke about the launch of the initiative; the program was originally born out of a response to a pandemic.
“We launched the “On the Canals” program during the 2020 pandemic, starting first with “Canal Stay-cations. Everyone was staying home and not traveling, but nobody really thought about all the wonderful opportunities here in their own backyard,” Stratton said.
“So we started getting people out on the canals with free tours – with biking and kayaking [and] water bike. This first year, approximately 2,800 people participated in “On the Canals”, which we thought was great, and this year we expect 10,000 people to participate in our “On the Canals” offerings.
The program has since grown, now celebrating 22 sites across the state – spanning the 524-mile canal system from Albany to Buffalo. All “On the Canals” programs are free. Funding for the program is provided by NYPA; the $300 million initiative created to promote tourism and recreation opportunities along the state’s revitalized canal system.
Mays also spoke about working with the Canal Corporation and the opportunity it has given not only her, but the Oswego community and the state as a whole.
“It’s been an extremely rewarding opportunity for us here in Oswego,” Mays said. “People come everywhere to visit Oswego from out of state; from New York, Albany, Rochester [and] Syracuse – just for paddling, stay the afternoon [and] stay the evening. And it’s been really great in terms of what the program is designed to do. We really see the effects here. I just want to say thank you for such a beautiful vision.
Mays went on to say that the economic impact has resulted in the purchase of new kayaks for his business, the creation of jobs and training, and the additional sales of a new folding kayak made in France.
Barlow shared his thoughts regarding the myriad of waterfront projects across Oswego and the collaborative efforts to revive and enhance the lakeside experience for residents and visitors.
“As Jenn alluded to and the manager alluded to, we have people coming here from all over New York State. Oswego is not just becoming a local destination; it’s becoming a regional destination,” Barlow said. “They come here because we have done so much and have great partners. We are finally all working together and you are seeing the results unfold before our eyes.
Michaels spoke about several waterfront projects already completed in Fulton, expressing excitement for a new $5.5 million canal project slated for next summer that will include kayak launches, a viewpoint and fishing areas. .
“So we’re in – we’re fully invested in, because we see what investment along our canals and along the waters can do for a community. And the city of Fulton is ready to be a part of that,” Michaels said.
Ok, back to the fun part, playing in the water –
If you’ve ever thought, “What would it be like to be on the water?” whether you’re driving the Oswego River, strolling through a lakeside park, or picnicking by the shore – wonder no more. Oswego Expeditions is the place to be. With a guided and professional tour, engaging staff and safety as a number one priority, what more could you ask for? Oh wait… let’s not forget the most important part that the visit is absolutely free.
So take a day to pamper yourself by getting out on the water to experience all that the Oswego Waterway has to offer. My husband and I are already registered for one excursion, but I feel the undeniable need to register for several excursions. You could also…
Something to be aware of: You might feel a little anxious just thinking about having to come back to shore. Too bad the summer didn’t last forever…
For more information on Oswego Expedition kayak tours, please click here. For more information on the NYSCC “On the Canals” program, including a list of activities located throughout the state, please click here.
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