Heather Cross kayaked before, but wasn’t sure if she was doing it right. So she took the first kayak class held by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department to find out.

“Before I pick up bad habits, I need to learn the right way,” Cross said.

Divided into a two part-course, part one took place at the pool at Carl Levin Park on Monday.

Led by experienced kayak instructor Paulette Boudreaux, owner of Outdoor Life Skills, the class focused on basic water safety and proper equipment use.

“By the end of the class, they’ll know how to use an oar, wear a life vest and just enjoy the ride in a safe way because kayaking is an awesome way to see the outdoors from a different perspective,” she said.

Participants varied in age from 11 to 50 with three men and three women at different experience levels.

“I want to learn how to kayak and have fun doing it,” said Patrick McKenna, 11, a beginner who was eager to get in the water.

Before anyone got in the water, Boudreaux had them practice holding and using the oar and emphasized the proper way to put on a life vest. “Like anything in life — practice, practice, practice all the basics,” she said.

Soon a mini armada of brightly colored sit-on kayaks, the easiest ones to use, floated in the pool as kayakers maneuvered through the sparking blue water paddling, stopping and turning around.

Looks of surprise appeared on everyone’s faces at how effortlessly they could paddle after only a few minutes.

“Hopefully, the class will encourage people to enjoy local water areas more,” said Lori Briere, recreation superintendent.

The second part of the course was Wednesday at Dana Peak Park as the same kayakers used their new skills to navigate in open water.

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