Summer 2016 Update

Fredericksburg SUP began offering stand up paddle lessons in Fredericksburg in May 2012. We were the first to offer SUP lessons in the Fredericksburg area, and at that time there were only a few people in the area that had stand up paddle boards and could be seen on the Rappahannock river.

When I first began the business, my plan was to only operate for one summer. It was a project to fill a gap in time before moving out of state in the fall. I had already been paddleboarding for a few years and, having connections at the industry level, I saw how fast it was growing nationwide. I also could see that, with a river like the Rappahannock right in town and an outdoor recreation community of such awesome people in the surrounding area, it wouldn't be long before stand up paddleboarding took off in Fredericksburg, as well. I wanted to be a part of that and to share what I had been doing with others.

It took only a couple of months to get my equipment together (big thanks to Sunny Pitcher at Potomac Paddlesports), secure insurance, get permits and certifications, develop a logo, build a website, and do all the other things that one has to get in order before launching a new business. I taught my first lesson on Memorial Day weekend 2012, and the summer, in general, was a successful one.

There are a lot of things to appreciate about stand up paddleboarding in Fredericksburg. The Rappahannock River is beautiful, and I immediately enjoyed the no-hassle, easily-accessible experience that SUP provided me outside and on the water here. There truly was something great about being able to throw a relatively lightweight board on top of the car, unload at the parking lot, be on the water in just a few minutes—and before long be exploring some cool stuff downstream or enjoying a beautiful Virginia sunset. But I think that the thing that I enjoyed the most was the people that I met through stand up paddleboarding. In that first year, I met some of the coolest, most adventurous, and most fun people. And some of the people that I've met through SUP have become my closest friends here in the area. I'm really thankful for that.

I went through some pretty big ups and downs in my personal life in the couple of years after. SUP became a way for me to balance some of the turmoil and commotion that was going on in the background. It gave me something constructive to put my energy and attention into. That felt like a hopeful thing, and it seemed like good people consistently sought it out, so it helped me to mix with others that had a positive mindset. I really enjoyed the lessons that I taught, if for no other reason that the conversation along the way was always great.

As was expected, within a couple of years, other businesses began offering lessons, rentals and fitness classes on the water. I was happy to see that happen. I've really enjoyed stand up paddleboarding so close to home, and it was exciting that other people were enjoying it, too. I feel that it's been a privilege to have been involved in that story here. Stand up paddle in Fredericksburg has grown a lot in a short time and, if nothing else, that's a testament to the fact that it's so much fun!

So, what now? Well, going into my 5th summer, the business took on a life that I never expected. It's been great. But I also have a lot of other responsibilities and other projects to do: bills to pay, a book draft to finish, a son who means the world to me. The time just isn't there like it used to be. So, I'm putting things on a sort of hiatus. Turning the lights off for a while. There are some wonderful people in town, like April and Keith Peterson at River Rock Outfitter, who are doing a great job of filling the space in the market. If there's a torch of any kind to pass, I'm happy to pass it on.

Thanks for the great times. Maybe I'll see you in 2017!

Shawn Young
June 2016