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About Us

Urban Kayaks’ youth “Kayak Class” offers a comprehensive learn-to-paddle program for kids and teens aged 9-16, aimed at fostering comfort on the water. Set against the serene backdrop of Monroe Harbor at our Lakefront location, children can explore the basics of kayaking and paddleboarding in a secure and tranquil environment, while engaging in exciting activities and cherished lessons. At Urban Kayaks, our mission is to deliver a tailored class for middle schoolers, instilling kayaking fundamentals within a enjoyable and secure learning setting, with the goal of cultivating confidence and proficiency in young individuals, creating memorable experiences for friends and families to share.

For five years running, Urban Kayaks’ youth kayaking and paddleboarding class has been a cherished fixture along the Chicago lakefront. Our uniquely crafted program is led by experienced Chicago educators, boasting over 20 years of combined teaching expertise. All instructors are CPR & First Aid certified with AED training and access to an on-site AED. Each week is meticulously tailored to align with student interests and to showcase the best our vibrant city has to offer. Beyond kayaking and paddleboarding instruction, our diverse range of activities provides students the opportunity to learn something new, have fun, embrace challenges, and forge lasting friendships. From kickball and volleyball to capture the flag, bracelet making, puff paint decorating, water balloon fights, tie-dye parties, Millennium Park adventures, to free swims in our protected harbor—there’s something for every young adventurer in our class.

Throughout the week, your child will benefit from individualized guidance provided by our seasoned instructors, fostering the growth of confidence and skills as they embrace new challenges. Students will have the opportunity to apply their newfound skills during a captivating tour of the renowned Chicago River. To culminate the week, participants can engage in an exhilarating student kayak race to and from the Adler Planetarium, further enhancing their kayaking experience.

“Urban Kayak is a fabulous summer camp option for kids. Safety is the top priority. The kids are outside all day learning new skills on the kayaks and paddle boards. My daughter went every summer and loved it so much that now she works there!”

  • Lisa B., member, summer class mom 2019-2021

“We loved our Urban Kayaks summer class.  Our son could not wait to get up and go in the morning! It was a super fun wholesome experience. The best part was our son was able to meet some new kids while gaining skills as a kayaker and having fun on the lakefront.”

  • Dawn L., summer class mom 2020-2022

“The camp was one of the highlights of my summer last year, I had a great time both on the water and land. I absolutely would recommend it.”

  • Alex Z., summer class student 2020-2022

Several of our students have enjoyed their time at summer class so much that they have gone on to become employees at Urban Kayaks and now contribute to the vibrant and enthusiastic culture we have built. We hope you can join us this summer to adventure with us. Now… let’s go kayaking!  

a yellow boat sitting on top of a sandy beach



  • A: June 13-17 = $600
  • B: June 20-24 = $600
  • C: June 27-1 = $600
  • D: July 4-8 = $600
  • E: July 11-15 = $600
  • F: July 18-22 = $600


  • A: July 25-29 = $600
  • B: Aug 1-5 = $600
  • C: Aug 8-12 = $600
  • D: Aug 15-19 = $600
  • E: Aug 22-26 = $600


  • Explorers (Ages 10-12) 
  • M-F 9am-3:30 pm
  • Explorers will have the opportunity to learn about kayaking and paddle boarding in the safe, calm waters of Monroe Harbor, all while enjoying new activities and camp favorites! On water group activities will give campers the chance to challenge themselves and make lasting friendships. Activities include: Kayak and paddle boarding lessons every day, swimming, sports and games, arts and crafts, outdoor education, and more! Groups are kept small to ensure individualized attention. All children must know how to swim.
  • Adventurers (Ages 13-16)
  • M-F 9am-3:30 pm
  • Adventurers will have the opportunity to learn about leadership and teamwork while embarking on longer kayak and paddle board trips. Campers will learn safety and rescue techniques and hone their paddling skills. Activities include: Kayak and paddle board lessons every day, swimming, sports and games, arts and crafts, outdoor education, and more! Groups are kept small to ensure individualized attention. All children must know how to swim.


Class Hours: Mon-Fri 9 a.m – 3:30 p.m.
Launch Site: Class will be held at our Lakefront location at Monroe Harbor.
How to Dress: Wear a swimsuit and bring a change of clothes and towel. Athletic waterproof sandals and a hat are also a good idea.
Lunch: All children need to bring their own non-perishable lunches, drinks, and snacks.
Swimming: Certified instructors will assure that each student enters the water at an appropriate pace and skill level, however all campers must be able to swim on their own.
Health & Safety: Upon registration, you will be asked to complete a medical form for your child. Please be certain it contains all the information needed to properly care for your child. Feel free to contact the Urban Kayaks Office prior to registration to discuss any health concerns.

COVID-19 Guidelines:

  • All staff will wear face masks
  • Extra handwashing stations available for staff and campers
a small boat in a large body of water
a person with a yellow boat sitting on top of a body of water
a group of people standing in front of a fence


  • Registration: Once the registration form below is completed, a staff member will be in contact to request a non-refundable deposit of 25% per child with each registration.
  • In the event that we have to cancel class due to COVID-19, we will issue a full refund.



  • Urban Kayaks / 435 E. Chicago Riverwalk / Chicago, IL 60601
  • 312.965.0035 / [email protected]

Sammy Gage

Director of Kayak Class
Sammy is a 1st Grade CPS teacher who fell in love with Urban Kayaks Summer Camp last year. She played soccer for Loyola University of Chicago and began kayaking with her family as a kid. In her free time, Sammy enjoys cheering on the Cubs and traveling with her husband and 2 dogs, Maggie and Bernard.

Aaron Gershenzon

Owner at Urban Kayaks

Owner of Urban Kayaks, Aaron is an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor and has spent the last 15 summers paddling the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. During the winter months, Aaron and brother Asher can be found on the slopes of Colorado teaching children’s ski school and coaching in children’s basketball leagues. When Aaron is not kayaking he is playing fetch with his Chocolate Lab Joni.

Asher Gershenzon

Owner at Urban Kayaks

Owner at Urban Kayaks, Asher is an American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor and is one of the most experienced and qualified instructors and guides on the Chicago River. Asher has spent many winters and summers coaching children’s skiing and athletics. In his off time, you can find Asher caring for Oliver, his prized Cavapoo.