Dear LA Teacher,
My 12-year-old son is into water sports. I’m thinking about finding an activity we can do together. Any suggestions?
Dear Valley Dad,
Encouraging your child to participate in a recreational activity with you is a wonderful bonding experience your son will always remember. Lake Balboa, located between Burbank Blvd. and Victory Blvd. in Lake Balboa in the heart of the San Fernando Valley is a perfect place to go kayaking.
A kayak is a streamlined boat seating one passenger who sits forward holding a double bladed paddle. Once you learn how to maneuver the kayak, it’s a fun cardiovascular exercise, especially if you race your son across the lake. Watch out, though, he may beat you.
Before you have your first race, drive over to Lake Balboa with your son and visit the lifeguard stand. You’ll need to request a Safety Swim/Training Verification form. Take this to the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks pool off of Van Nuys Blvd. and be prepared. There you’ll be taking a swim test, which is pretty simple. With pants and shirt on, you’ll jump in the deep end of the pool. The purpose of the test is to see if you can tread water or float on your back for ten minutes without touching poolside. (That’s about how long a lifeguard will take to rescue you if your kayak capsizes in the middle of Lake Balboa.)
After passing the test, you’ll return to Lake Balboa lifeguards with the signed Safety Swim Verification form. While you are there, sign up for the Lake Balboa Kayak Orientation Class. It meets the first Saturday of each month at 9:00 AM. Classes fill up fast so the sooner you get registered the faster you’ll be on that lake racing your son.
The orientation class is about an hour long. One of the lifeguards teaches you how to handle a kayak. You’ll learn to paddle the boat forward, backward, turn it in a complete circle, and other maneuvering skills. Once you’ve proven your skill, the lifeguard will set you free to practice on the lake.
That’s it. There are a few fees, however. The swim test is $10.00 and the class costs $25.00 per person. Once you’ve passed the hour course you can purchase a card for $55 permitting you 25 hours of kayak usage on the lake—a great deal.
Pick a time each week for you and your son to engage in your paddling workout. Lifeguards are available to provide access to the kayaks starting at 9:00 AM daily. The park closes at sunset.
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