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Moonlit river ride entices students’ sense of adventure


Canoeing and kayaking are typically considered events for warm, sunny days, but on Fridays and Saturdays during a full moon, USF Outdoor Recreation sends students out on the water under the stars.

The event has been a Riverfront Park tradition for over a decade, and while some people are just now discovering it, others return on a
monthly basis.

Despite the 39-degree weather during last month’s excursion, there was still a regular show of about 100 people renting kayaks and canoes.

“The cold really doesn’t stop people,” Samantha Hillard, a junior majoring in environmental science and Outdoor Rec employee, said. “Usually people just choose to rent canoes instead of kayaks to avoid
getting wet.”

Many first-timers go out with
different expectations: Some don’t expect it to be any different than during the day and may be nervous about getting on the water when visibility may become an issue.

“It’s kind of fun to see people scared to go out and come back
saying it was so fun,” Cindy Reilly, a manager at Riverfront Park, said.

Even with the help of the bright stars and moon, navigating the waters at night is not an easy task for most students. Even though the canoes and kayaks aren’t long enough to be required by law to have a light at night, all boats have a glow stick attached to the front so that it easier to spot them in the water and avoid collisions.

Roberto Infante, a junior
majoring in chemical engineering, said the extra challenges make it an adventure with his group of friends.

“When you, don’t know where you’re going its really tricky,” Infante said. “We each went in single kayaks so when one person crashed, the rest of us could laugh and know not to go that way.”

Some students said they found the challenge of navigating at night the most thrilling part.

“Trying to figure out where
everything is in the dark was really the best part,” Isnael Diaz, a senior majoring in biomedical science, said. “This was my first time and I thought it was very peaceful.”

Those who said they were
intimidated because they couldn’t see clearly still found it to be a worthwhile experience.

“It was kind of scary because we’d hear something in the trees or something splashing,” Kaylin Martin, a sophomore majoring in biomedical science, said. “But it was really so pretty. There were so many stars and they were so bright.”

The late night boat rides have the possibility to turn into a
romantic night for two, making it a great Valentine’s Day option for students on a budget. After the previous chilly adventure on the water, students were able to warm up around the fire pit next to the boathouse provided by the employees.

“It’s nice to sit around the fire when it’s cold,” Jo-Anne Burgess, a senior majoring in animal science and an Outdoor Rec employee said. “On Friday night, we had a big circle around the fire and got to roast
marshmallows. It was a really nice experience”

Burgess, who always works the moonlight canoeing shifts, recommends students come to the second time slot at 9 p.m. because the moon is very big in the sky.

The employees running the moonlight canoeing and kayaking event said they have noticed these events are what really bring students into Riverfront Park and makes them aware of the adventure trips Outdoor Recreation organizes and makes open to everyone.

More information about Outdoor Recreation events and Adventure Trips can be found on the Outdoor Recreation website:

The next moonlight canoeing event will be Friday and Saturday, costing $5 per person. Four tickets may be bought per USF student with a valid ID.