MARVEL: The Great Lakes Avengers

Stop day dreaming about being Spider-man. Move over Tony Stark – the real Avengers are around the Great Lakes!

Most might not be aware of this Marvel super-hero dream team, but check them out!

The GLA team is made up of four heroes:


Mr. Immortal (Craig Hollis)

Dinah Soar (Dinah Soar)

Big Bertha (Ashley Crawford)

Flatman (Dr. Val Ventura)



The Great Lakes Avengers aren’t as popular as other Marvel heroes, but we like that fun, quirky charm. Read the comics and have a few laughs!

Fourth of July Fireworks Paddle

We are excited to announce our second annual Fourth of July Fireworks Paddle!

Check out the following details about the event:

Start Time: 7:00 PM

End Time: Shortly after the fireworks, around 10:30 PM

Meeting Location: Nicolet Boulevard Beach

More Info: We will be enjoying a full Sunset Paddle prior to relaxing and enjoying the beautiful Riverside Park fireworks show from our kayaks! [We plan on alternating between the Neenah and Menasha fireworks shows each year] After the show, we will exit the water at Doty Park and shuttle you back to your car. Total time spent on the water will be ~2.5 hours.

Safety: As this event takes place at night, we require that everyone brings a flashlight or lantern at a minimum. Our kayaks will have string lights to help light them, but the more light and visibility to other boaters, the better! Also, as fun as 4th of July partying can be, please do not drink before the event or bring drinks with you while kayaking.

This is a popular event and we recommend booking early! If you have more questions, please email, call, or text us directly!

Book your Fourth of July Adventure TODAY!

Book online now!


Guest Blog – Local Author Alissa Cottrill with ‘A is for Appleton’

We welcome guest blog appearances from all walks of life. We are happy to feature artists, adventurers, writers, and anyone with a story to tell!

This week we are excited to give the spot light to Alissa Cottrill! The author who created a fun local themed children’s book titled ‘A is for Appleton’! We were happy to support this project with some fun photos! Read on for insight on the origins of this local project!

Heads-Up: Alissa will have a booth at tomorrows [May 19th] indoor farmers market Downtown Appleton! You can also reach out to purchase a book through email =



A is for Appleton made its first debut as a gift for my sister-in-law, Katie, and my, then soon-to-be, sweet nephew, Archer. The content of the book came from her love of all things local. As I was creating the gift I imagined her reading to her new babe telling him all about the ABCs, their wonderful community, and her experiences had. After the original was gifted, my family encouraged me to publish the book. Two years of debating and lots of internal pep talks later, I took the first step.

When starting out I had zero exposure. It was intimidating and exhilarating at the same time. I began to contact the local businesses to ask their permission and to share my book project with them. With my husband and son in tow, we visited many of the places throughout the book and we took pictures – lots of them! It was a great time spent engaging with and supporting our community. The conversations had and the family time spent out and about are moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. Next came the search for a printing company, book layout, page design, business set-up, and a bunch of other legal requirements I never would have known how to navigate through without the assistance and support of so many. One of the very best perks of this book project was the time spent with my sister, Gayle Cottrill. She, patiently, walked me through InDesign and Photoshop (neither of which I had ever used!), she was a sounding board for pretty much every decision, and she let me hang out at her kitchen table – a lot. In my opinion, these moments had already made this project a success.

Which brings me to now, with the published work in hand and excitement for phase two: Sharing! I’ve just begun and already know it’s going to be even better than imagined. My first customer interaction, at the downtown indoor farm market, was incredible. As he began to page through he shared a few stories of how he could relate to the images. My favorite was him recalling walking to school, as a young boy, and being able to stop at the previous Manderfield’s location along the way. It brought back his memories of picking out a cookie or doughnut before school and, as we talked, I realized this conversation was exactly the type of positive interaction I hoped this book would create. I’m looking forward to others I will be able to meet and talk with but I am also excited for the community support that A is for Appleton has imbedded throughout its pages.

Interaction is a powerful thing and, when it happens to take place in our immediate surroundings, with those who are part of our same community bubble, it can create positive waves from one to another. I hope A is for Appleton can encourage us to continue to support, talk with, and experience our days with those we live among. Please enjoy and after reading, take it to the next level and attempt the Appleton scavenger challenge: Can you visit each local place, from A to Z?

Happy exploring,
Alissa Williams

Book Report: Paddle-to-the-Sea

Book Title and Author: Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling

Main idea of story: A young boy carves a wood paddler in a canoe and sets him off on a voyage through the Great Lakes to reach the Sea! Follow Paddle’s adventure as he visits a new location on every page!

Main characters in the book:

  • Paddle to the Sea – A wooden carving of an Indian figure in a canoe
  • Young Boy – The creator of the wooden carving who sets him on his course
  • Plus dozens of friendly supporters he bumps into along the adventure

Something unique and interesting about the story/book for readers to know: The art work on every page is vivid and beautiful!

Favorite part of the story/book and why: Paddle’s exciting journeys in sometimes risky situations keep you on your toes! You are exposed to the true nature of wilderness adventures – beautiful, life-changing, and even a bit scary!

Was this book entertaining, educational, amusing, etc?: Paddle to the Sea is a fun and entertaining story – you will find yourself rooting for him to make it through the Great Lakes all the way to the Sea! Along the way, learn about the communities, wildlife, and industries throughout the region.

Would you recommend this book?: Absolutely! This book is great for young or old and anyone in between!


Also, Check out this fun activity recommended in the book for families and/or students!



“Here is geography presented with freshness and originality and imagination. Younger children respond to the idea of the small canoe making its long voyage to the sea, older readers are delighted by the fine sweep of country the book shows them.”

The New York Times

“Striking at first sight, compelling attention to the last, this is more than a bright colored picture book. It carries a cargo of information and moves with a purpose. The little traveler will…teach many children many things.”

The New York Herald Tribune

Bright Gear for Safer Paddling!

As the weather gets nicer more people head out on the water! Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle boards, and all different kinds of boats will soon be floating around. Everyone is looking to have a good time and we wanted to put out a friendly reminder to stay visible out on the water! This means wearing bright gear so you can be seen before its too late!


Our entire fleet was selected with safety in mind! We use brightly colored kayaks, paddles and PFDs! Similar to motorcycles on the road – it is smart for a kayaker to wear bright gear for boaters to take notice.

Being visible in rescue situations is crucial as well. Sometimes the difference between life and death is simply “being seen”. On a lighter note – brighter colors are fun and cooler in the sun! Stay safe out there!


How to Make a Homemade Compass

Check out the video below for a fun activity to get excited about summer!

We were planning on releasing this video last week at NEWP Gear Swap during our presentation but the event got snowed out! Blizzard of the century 2018 – Happy April!

Book Report: Urban Ecology

We bumped into Ken Leinbach on our way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for our pre-season team backpacking trip. He is a leader making positive change in Wisconsin and beyond. Check out his book or the link below to learn more!


Book Title and Author: Urban Ecology by Ken Leinbach

Main idea of story: A quiet experiment in Milwaukee that is turning heads! It starts with getting a city kid to explore their neighborhood park and has the power to transform a city. This project can be replicated through the USA and beyond! Simply put – getting kids out into nature can positively change the world!

Main characters in the book:

This is a community project that is open to everyone! Young or old, the more the merrier for this mission!

Something unique and interesting about the story/book for readers to know: Check out their website!

Favorite part of the story/book and why: Favorite part must be page 252 – This has a big picture of our friend Ken detailing some of his amazing life experiences which he puts into action in a positive way!

Was this book entertaining, educational, amusing, etc?: This book details a fun Wisconsin project that is impacting children for the better! It is very educational and insightful!

Would you recommend this book?: Yes! If you are interested in learning about a local Wisconsin community project you should check this out!


PS – Thanks for the note and autograph, Ken!

50th Anniversary of Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

As Canoecopia 2018 concludes we wanted to share insight into one of the overarching themes presented – the Celebration of the Wild & Scenic River Act’s 50th Anniversary!
The Fox River does not fall under this classification, but other efforts throughout our community are continuing to clean, protect, and promote our precious waterways.

Check out the Act below or click the link to learn more! Through the link you will find an interactive map indicating the rivers currently protected in Wisconsin and throughout our Nation!


It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Congress declares that the established national policy of dams and other construction at appropriate sections of the rivers of the United States needs to be complemented by a policy that would preserve other selected rivers or sections thereof in their free-flowing condition to protect the water quality of such rivers and to fulfill other vital national conservation purposes. (Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, October 2, 1968)