Local business offers water sports lessons and more guides
By Wesley Gardner
When Holly Orr first took up canoeing in 2000, she had no idea it would eventually become her business, but it only took about a year for her to realize she could monetize her passion.
Orr — owner of Paddle With Style, which operates out of Caldwell and Hays county — now offers canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding lessons to children and adults of all ages, and she has a blast in the process.
“I love being out in nature and I love our river,” said Orr, noting she found her passion in canoeing after competing in the Texas Water Safari race – a 260-mile marathon that starts in San Marcos and ends at the coast. “I started racing [Texas Water Safari] in high school and just fell in love with the sport and the river and the area.
“Then, I decided to start sharing that passion with others and coaching them and giving them pointers. One thing led to another and here we are.”
And it’s not that Orr is just passionate about the sport. She’s really good at it, too. She’s now finished the Texas Water Safari race 12 times and has broken six women’s records. She even currently holds the women’s C1 record at the event.
According to Orr, Paddle With Style offers lessons that can be adjusted for specific age groups or skills.
“I teach anybody from the brand-new beginner who’s nervous to get out on the water and wants to try something new to those who are looking to get faster for the next race and giving them some coaching,” said Orr, noting she takes joy in teaching all age levels. “I just love watching the light bulb turn on when people realize something new and it clicks.”
In addition to lessons, Paddle With Style also offers guided trips down the river and gear rental. In a typical year, Orr said the company hosts summer and youth camps, though restrictions placed due to COVID-19 has restricted the number of people she can work with at one time.
“We’re capable of handling really large groups of around 80 people when COVID’s not an issue,” said Orr, noting the maximum size of the group she’s able to work with now is governed by the number of individuals allowed to gather by either county or the city.
Still, Orr said the nature of the sport makes it perfect during the era of social distancing.
“It’s a really good sport that allows you to do social distancing,” said Orr. “You can out by yourself or just you and your housemate or partner can go out and paddle.”
Orr said that because the business doesn’t operate out of building, reservations are required to be made either over the phone or at www.paddlewithstyle.com, though she noted she currently prefers those interest to call to make a reservation.
Orr also noted the importance of everybody doing their part to keep the river clean.
“River conservation is important to us – ‘leave no trace’ principles,” said Orr. “It is always a concern when there’s people. Leave no trace is more than just trash, it’s also stomping up on people’s land and chasing after turtles – all of that.”
Those interesting in booking a reservation can reach Orr at 512-749-2350.