As the golden hours of summer awake from hibernation, UB student dock workers rejoice.
The 10-to-25-foot deep, man-made Lake LaSalle was originally constructed in the 1970s for flood control and runoff purposes but provides students with a place to escape in a kayak during the warmer months of the year.
Sarah Klos, senior geology major, says she was excited to get a job at Lake LaSalle’s boat dock in fall 2020 after being involved in UB’s Outdoor Adventure Club.
“I needed a job at the time and I had been a camp counselor beforehand, so I knew about kayaking and teaching people how to kayak,” Klos said.
Once the combined air and water temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the boat dock opens to students. Klos describes the feeling of wanting to be on the water as “a terrible waiting game.”
William Meany, a UB alum who majored in environmental studies, says the lake was a “big draw” in his decision to attend UB. On his first day of classes, Meany met Russ Crispell, the head of UB’s now-dissolved Outdoor Pursuits program.
“Just from that interest of wanting to do something outdoors he immediately was like, ‘Hey, I think I have something for you,’” Meany said. “It’s great working out in the sun all the time — hours are great — and you know, people love it.”
Meany says the waters are crowded on the weekends and that he’s never heard anybody say something negative about the experience.
Other students, like senior theatre design major TJ Wildow Jr., say the lake is a nice respite, especially during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was the only programming SA could really do, because it was outdoor and had space while we were concerned about social distancing,” Wildow said.
At the time, strict sanitary procedures such as wiping down equipment and using aerosol sprays for disinfectant were in place. Even though the kayakers had to be extremely careful and sanitary throughout the process, a time on the water was the escape they needed.
“It was nice that despite us having to go through such rigorous safety protocols, we’re still able to provide an activity for students to do,” he said. “It was really nice to see that a similar number of students are still coming out to kayak despite there being more activities on campus overall.”
“I know a lot of people who were either freshmen or were coming back on campus for the first time in a while were looking for that sort of thing that’s safe to do outside,” said Brendan Kelly, a senior economics and geography major.
Kelly, a former Spectrum reporter who grew up around the Thousand Islands, says his passion for kayaking brought him to the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
“I wasn’t sure going into this if my dream job existed, but this definitely is one… It’s just so nice to be able to do something that I’m super passionate about and translate that to a campus job.”
Many students have enjoyed spending their warm days by the shores at UB, whether in the canoes of the past or the kayaks of today. As it turns out, there is more history behind the waves than meets the eye.
“Something that a lot of people don’t know is that inside of the shack, there is everybody’s names signed who’s ever worked there.” Klos said. “You could look up and see names from when it first opened and then also my name. It’s really, really cool — there's like 30 names signed in there.”
Jack Porcari is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Porcari is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science major with a minor in journalism. Aside from writing and editing, he enjoys playing piano, flow arts, reptiles and activism.