My daughter was interested in trying standup paddle boarding (SUP) this summer and there are plenty of places to try it in West Michigan. South Beach in South Haven has a rental spot right on the beach but, when we visited last week, Lake Michigan was really cold (only little kids would stay in the water) and, on an earlier trip, it was much too windy. (Kiteboarders were literally flying.)
I wanted a smaller, calmer, and preferably warmer lake. Kzoo Kids suggested Ramona Park in Portage, which had the added advantage of being much closer to home. Park admission was free for Portage residents ($10 per car for non-residents) and board rental was $12 for an hour.
Getting into a standing position on the board was easier than I expected and staying upright wasn't too hard. I fell off in the first minute but stayed on the board after that. Perhaps I should have read some Stand Up Paddle Board instructions before we went, but it felt okay figuring it out on our own.
We started by paddling with the wind, which was really easy. The breeze was strong enough that we'd move along nicely, even without paddling.
The breeze, of course, worked against us when we turned back. I had been paddling for a few minutes before I realized I was making no progress at all. To actually go forward required much faster paddling or kneeling down on the board to cut wind resistance. Kneeling was much less comfortable, but it did work.
That's pretty much how we spent our hour-- great paddling downwind, then struggling upwind. Overall it was reasonably fun. My daughter really enjoyed it and I'd do it again, but perhaps on a calmer day.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.