Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium logo

July 17 - 21, 2024

"This place will change your life"






Barb Carmichael


Paddling Bio

My paddling journey began in 2018. I signed up for a symposium without knowing what to expect and was instantly hooked. Encouraged by my coach, who saw potential in me, I honed my skills, traveled to incredible places, and met many wonderful people. In 2021, I ventured into whitewater kayaking and fell in love with the dynamic waters of both rivers and the ocean. By 2023, I had earned the ACA L2 Coastal Kayak Instructor certification. My goal now is to inspire others to pursue their passion for the sport, just as my coach inspired me.


ACA L2 Coastal Kayak Instructor, ACA L3 Coastal Kayak

Who am I?

I moved to Michigan in 2013 after spending most of my adult life in Southern California. In California, I was an avid scuba diver and enjoyed the ebb and flow of the ocean. Now, I’ve traded being under the water for being on the water in a kayak. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and love adventure. My friends often joke about the number of hobbies I have, and they’re right. Professionally, I manage a software development team. I draw parallels between my kayak coaching and my professional work – both involve growing skills and helping others progress in their careers.

My GLSKS Story

I attended the Great Lake Sea Kayaking Symposium for the first time in 2020, which was the first year of the pods. I enjoyed the sense of community at the symposium, and the pods played a big role in fostering that. Even now, our pod still communicates via Facebook Messenger when the symposium is approaching. Two years after my first experience at GLSKS, I found myself sitting at a table with the coach who initially inspired me and a mentor who helped me along the way. As I looked around, I saw more people who had supported me on my journey to becoming an ACA L3 Coastal Kayaker and ACA L2 Coastal Kayak Instructor. It’s a special place with a great community, and the participants, many of whom I now call friends, are truly wonderful.