Aaron is an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor and spends most of his time paddling the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. When Aaron is not kayaking he is playing fetch with his Chocolate Lab Joni. Aaron has been collecting NBA basketball cards since he was 6 years old.
Asher is an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor. Asher worked closely with his brother in the industry for many years and is one of the most experienced and qualified instructors and guides on the Chicago River. Asher’s passion for kayaking is surpassed only by his Brazilian jujitsu skills. Come at him if you can.
James is an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor. With a lifetime of recreational kayaking experience from the coast of New Zealand to the raging rapids of Colorado his love for the sport and his adventurous spirit are contagious. James is the proud owner of Larry, one of the top AKC Entlebucher’s in his breed.
Joni comes from a line of therapy dogs and is “chill” like Mr. Freeze. She enjoys long walks off leash, swimming, and can play fetch for days. The frisbee is her favorite toy, followed closely by the stick then ball. She loves to cuddle.
PSIA Cert II Ski Instructor in Beaver Creek, CO for the last 6 years and 3 years leading tours at Urban Kayaks. In her free time Melissa enjoys cycling, bowling, and laser tag.
This is Sam’s third year with UK. Sam grew up in the suburbs but spent his summers on the waters of Lake Geneva. Along with his work as one of our Managers and ACA instructors, Sam is also an EMT for MedEx Ambulance and headed to paramedic school in the fall. You’re most likely to find him at our Monroe Harbor location, teaching paddleboarding and doing safety laps on the Jet ski.
Zach is a Lead Tour Guide and Manager at Urban Kayaks. Now entering his 3rd season at UK Zach has had the privilege of watching firsthand as paddlesports have become more accessible to everyone and is honored to join this paddling resurgence. When he’s not on the River, Zach spends the off-season studying for his MA in Art Education at SAIC and working as a Teaching Artist with various schools throughout Chicago. Zach grew up in the Chicagoland area and is thrilled to share stories about this gorgeous city with people from all over the world.
Nate is a Lead Tour Guide/Manager and ACA certified instructor now in his second season with Urban Kayaks. He is also an avid paddleboarder and canoeist, and former dragon boat racer. In the Kayaking off-season he directs plays and teaches Theatre and Performance Studies classes at Northwestern University. He’s a Chicago native and loves sharing his love of the city with Urban’s patrons!
Felix is thrilled to be back for another season at Urban Kayaks where he is a manager, tour guide and instructor. Along with his love of water sports, Felix holds a degree in music and plays drums for several local bands. You might also find him slinging drinks over at Urban Kayaks’ new watering hole, Taco Rio!!
Matt enjoys his family with two wonderful girls and when he is not kayaking he is an artist. Urban Kayaks is lucky to have Matt as a Lead Tour Guide.
At a young age, Scott started push-poling the Louisiana marshes and bayous, learning the nuances from his father, uncle, and grandfather. He attended his first canoe camp at 10, and saved for his own canoe by age 12. He has been paddling in Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Illinois, and most of southeastern Asia. Though he’d never claim it himself, he’s often been described as a “river rat.” When not on the water Scott enjoys cooking, playing music, and performing Improv. He’s also contemplating getting into disc-golf, just cause it seems like his vibe. This is his 3rd year at Urban.
Tour guide and resident history nerd, Joe is an eight year veteran with Urban Kayaks. He’s an American Canoe Association Level II Instructor and will soon be Captain Joe! Aside from kayaking he’s an historian and hopes to one day be a professor. His other interests include sailing, fishing, pottery, and dad jokes. Be sure not to ask him about Chicago history unless you have some time to spare.
Sammy is returning for another summer as the Youth Kayaking Class Director at Urban Kayaks. Sammy first started kayaking with her parents as a child and continued to do so as a form of cross-training while playing soccer for Loyola University of Chicago. In the kayaking off-season, Sammy teaches First Grade at Bateman Elementary School alongside several other class counselors. In her free time, Sammy enjoys cheering on the Chicago Cubs and traveling with her husband and two dogs, Maggie and Bernard.