the website of Greg Stamer

2009 Qajaq TC

Posted by Greg on September 4, 2009


This years’ Michigan Training Camp (Qajaq TC) started off with a bang as storms created wild conditions on Lake Michigan, much to the delight of the participants.  Dennis Asmussen, Mike McDonald and myself led a surf session, that provided a great opportunity for participants to play and test their skills and rolls in challenging seas. From the smiles and shouts that ensued, it’s clear that everyone enjoyed themselves. I was impressed that there were very few wet-exits, even though this was the first time that some students rolled in conditions. The short-period waves were great fun and you could occasionally coax them into giving you long rides of 100 yards or more. One breaker hit my foredeck with enough force that it sent my kayak reeling backwards and setup a nice back-surf, anchored by a hanging draw. Of course, the secret to surfing is that whenever something interesting happens (that looks cool), that you just tell people that you meant to do it!

The Qajaq TC is a Greenland-style event held near Traverse City, Michigan and is affiliated with Qajaq USA. It is one of my favorite events. Much of the joy of an event like this is the reunion with “my other family” — a charmingly dysfunctional and eccentric kayak family.   Although there are far too many special friends to mention, it was heartwarming for me to cross paths with Dennis Asmussen again, after several years’ hiatus.  It was also great to teach with Helen Wilson, once more. Helen was a guest instructor and she shared her rolling grace with students as well as entertained the group with her experience at the Greenland competition.

The venue is cozy and fantastic — a camp situated between a thin strand of dune and forest separating the calm waters of Lower Herring Lake from the often wild waters of Lake Michigan. The dune provides a fantastic location for a bonfire, dramatically overlooking the big lake. The beauty of the location is that it offers participants a choice between mild and wild kayaking.

The camp sports a small number of rustic cabins, a wood-fired hot-tub and more, all linked by a series of paths through the woodlands. The intimate nature of the camp ensures that the event stays small. Organizers Nancy Thornton and Diane Carr run a well-honed operation. They have avoided the “bigger is better” growth and sprawl common with many successful events.

The food, served up by Uncommon Adventures owner,  Michael Gray is simply fantastic. This is the only symposium that I frequent that features gourmet-quality cuisine. If you only come for the good you will NOT be disappointed.

And finally there is the instruction. As a Qajaq USA event the focus is on mentoring, where everybody is both a teacher and a student — although there are dedicated coaches, of course.  The mentoring is thorough, yet informal. There are always multiple sessions (or pods as they are called) in progress. Although much of the focus is on static braces and rolling, skills taught are very diverse, from forward strokes and bow rudders to harpoon throwing and forward leaning handrolls. The beauty of the system is that students are free to move between groups and can absorb as much (or as little) as they please.

If you are into G-style, love great company and fantastic food, put the Qajaq TC on your “To-Do” list in 2010. But be warned, the event fills early.

Hover your cursor over the images to see a caption.





  1. Jen Torres Said,

    Great story Greg, looks like it was a perfect event, yet again! Look forward to seeing you in October!

  2. Sharon Bustamante Said,

    Great pictures and a nice write up…I have to agree with all that you said!

  3. Bill Burton Said,

    Sorry I missed it this year — hope to SYOTW soon.

  4. Diane Carr Said,

    Yes, it is a pretty wonderful event. I always have a great time there myself! I love all the good energy, seeing old friends and meeting new ones in such a water environment. A big thanks to Greg for the good write-up and for coming so often.

  5. Jane Taylor Said,

    Thanks, Greg!

    Looking back at these photos is a powerful reminder of the amazing community I am honored to be a small part of. We’ve learned and taught all kinds of qajaq tricks in this community, but the greatest thing we’ve gained is inspiring friendships.

    You’re a total rock star, and by association, I am one too, well, at least Emmett is…


  6. Will Bigelow Said,

    Not a single mention of scotch…..Something was missing at this years event…..

  7. Tim Gallaway Said,

    “a charmingly dysfunctional and eccentric kayak family.” True story. QTC was such a great time. I’m certainly going to come back. I said this a lot at camp that it was really surreal for me to have read so much about the mentors and their accomplishments on qajaqusa.com, various blogs, helen’s greenlandorbust then to meet and paddle with them. And I plan on doing it again.