One day in May, way back in 2012, I met a guy named Mike at Guelph Lake. He was selling these awesome paddles in gorgeous colours from a company called Badger Paddles. They were so beautiful I had to have one. We decided that Emma had to have one, too. Mine is orange. Hers, a purple and teal number made especially for little paddlers. Emma’s was a present for her 7th birthday. Because everyone – especially a 7 year-old beginner paddler – needs some #WildernessBling in their kit.
I didn’t know much about paddles when we first met Mike. But I knew these paddles were special. They are handcrafted by Mike and Fiona in prime Ontario canoeing country and they are beautiful. I know, I know. “Things” aren’t supposed to bring happiness. And I know that gear shouldn’t be bought based on beauty. But our beautiful paddles made me very happy. In fact, I’ve been using my Badger for four years now and I still always feel happy when I look at my beautiful orange paddle dipping in and out of our Ontario lakes. Over the last four years I’ve also learned a lot more about paddles and paddling and can say with confidence that a handcrafted Badger is a solid piece of gear.
I’ve gotten to know Mike and Fiona a bit since that first paddle purchase. Some of you might recognize Fiona as one of the creators of the Paddle In The Park Contest. And if any of you have visited a Swift Canoe booth at an Outdoor show, you have probably seen or met Mike as he helps out the Swift folks and sells his own paddles. They funny thing is, I had never actually met Fiona in person, but we’ve become friends over the years through the magic of Social Media.
Fast forward to this May. Our little Emma has grown up a lot. She just turned 11 years old and has outgrown that first beautiful teal and purple paddle. So of course, we contacted Fiona and Mike to order Emma a “grown-up” paddle. Knowing that this paddle will probably travel with Emma for many canoe trips over many years, we decided to go with a personalized design.
Mike and Fiona’s expertise shone as they helped us choose the right paddle size and style and guided us through the variety of woods available to us. We talked about how tall Em may get, how the different woods affect the weight of the paddle and what kind of paddling she will probably be doing as she gets older. Through the whole process, they wanted to be sure we were getting the best possible product. Emma picked her colours and her and I worked together to create a stylized logo of her name, which would be laser-engraved on the paddle blade.
The paddle unveiling was awesome! As the protective Badger Sock was slid down the paddle, Emma’s expression said it all…. I wish I had a picture of that exact moment, but in all the excitement I didn’t even think to pull out a camera. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you her eyes lit up and her smile was huge.
Emma’s custom paddle is a beautiful piece of #WildernessBling. Blue with purple paint splatters, it is the perfect design for a fun and funky paddler. And her laser engraved name turned out great.
And what was it like to meet Fiona in person? Well…. Exactly the way it feels to connect with an old friend and kindred spirit that you just haven’t seen in awhile.
Thanks, Mike and Fiona, for making the paddle purchase an awesome experience for us and for blossoming paddler, Emma!