In the race to see who can get down the river fastest, kayaks are out-paddleing canoes. According to TIME Magazine and numerous outdoor sports associations, kayaking is one of America's fastest-growing water sports. It's easy to see why: weighing less than a canoe, a kayak is more portable, accessible and easier to maneuver yet kayaking still provides a good athletic workout.

For these reasons and many more, the St. Charles Park District has introduced kayaks into its fleet of recreational river boats this year, replacing canoes of past years with four single-ride, sit-on-top kayaks, according to Meg Jourden-Messerich, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation.

"Our decision to switch from canoe rentals to kayaks was in response to the growing popularity of the water activity and inquiries we received at River View Miniature Golf Course the last two seasons," said Jourden-Messerich. "We are excited to add this rental option to the boat rental services for the 2017 season."

The sit-on-top kayaks available for hourly rental at River View Miniature Golf are very stable and easy to paddle for both new paddlers and experienced hands, according to Jourden-Messerich.

"We feel the recreational sit-on-top kayaks will best suit the various experience levels of boat patronage received through the past seasons," said Jourden-Messerich.

For those who are new to kayaking or who would like to refresh their skills before heading out on the Fox River, the park district will offer a one-day "Paddle in the Pool" program at Swanson Pool on Tuesday, July 18 from 9:30 to 10:30 AM. The kayaks will be brought over to Swanson Pool so people can sign-up for 15-minute sessions that will allow them to get comfortable with the feel of a kayak and practice paddling techniques on the calm waters of a pool before heading out into the "real world" of the river.

"It's a confidence booster to be able to practice in a pool where you can see the bottom," said Jourden-Messerich. Space is limited for this one-day practice session and registration is required. The cost is $5 for a 15-minute trial.

Kayaks and the park district's popular Pedal Boat rentals launch from the dock behind River View Miniature Golf in Pottawatomie Park. Boaters may only travel in the no-wake area between the railroad trestle to the south and the no-wake buoys to the north. Hourly rentals are available through mid-august between 11 AM and 6 PM on a first-come/first-served basis. Boat rentals are $17 per hour per boat and each rental includes a life jacket for each rider and paddles for kayak rentals.

For more information about renting kayaks and pedal boats, contact River View Miniature Golf 630-584-1028.