Judy Schmidt at Priest and Round Lakes, Idaho. Photo: Aaron Schmidt

By Eugene Buchanan

Ahhh, mom. That nurturing, loving, caring woman who brought all of us into existence. So what better thing to do on Mother's Day this year (Sunday, May 12, for you forgetful types) than to take mom paddling on a medium responsible for all life itself? Just ask 2009 women's world freestyle kayak champion Emily Jackson, soon to be a mother herself, who plans to take mom Kristine out on the water on her special day. "Sharing one of your most favorite things with the person who raised you is super rewarding," she says. "They get a chance to see you passionate about something, and you get a chance to share that passion with them. There isn’t a better way to spend time with your mother." So dust off your old canoe, tandem sea kayak, inflatable or what-have-you and hit your local waterway with matriarch in tow. If you don't have the skills to pull it off alone, you can also check with your local shop or paddling club; chances are they, too, have a special outing lined up to celebrate Mom. Following is a sampling of organized Mother's Day tours you'll find across the country, er Motherland…

Edgewater Kayak's Mother's Day Kayak Trip, Merrimack River, Edgewater, N.H.
Edgewater Canoe and Kayak owner Rob Littlefield has been offering Mother's Day paddles since 1983 – a whopping 30 years of celebrating motherdom on the New Hampshire's Merrimack River — and this year is no different. Sunday May 12th. Open to moms, dads, kids, grandkids and even pets ("A dog park just opened up across the river, so everyone always brings their pets," he says), people meet at his store at 35 Edgewater Dr. in Hooksett, N.H., at 11:30 a.m. and head out for a three-hour tour on the Merrimack River guaranteed to make Mom glad she had you. Littlefield expects between 50 and 100 people to make the trip this year, all in the name of Mom. Boat rentals run just $5/hr., and mom-pleasers bring their own lunch. "It's one of our most popular trips of the year – that, and the 4th of July," says Littlefield. "There's no better way to celebrate with mom." Info: (603) 485-9251

Family Kayak Adventure Center's Mother’s Day Brunch Paddle, San Diego Bay, San Diego, CA
SoCal offspring can show their love for their moms on the water by heading to Tidelands Park on San Diego Bay's Coronado Island and joining the Family Kayak Adventure Center's annual Mother's Day float. The outing includes a paddling lesson and rentals (if needed), led by ACA Certified Kayaking Instructor Marie Humphrey. Paddling under the San Diego Bay bridge you'll explore the shore of Coronado Island en route to the Ferry Landing, where you can treat mom to lunch and snacks on the patio of a local seaside restaurant. Afterward, you'll paddle back to Tidelands Park. "We make it extremely easy for anyone to come join us on this paddle," says Humphrey, adding that some years she's led as many as four generations of paddlers out on a Mother's Day outing. "We provide all the kayaks and equipment plus an introductory paddling lesson. No previous experience is required. It's a truly unique way to show Mom how much you appreciate her adventurous spirit." Early birds can head out on the morning session, which includes the brunch stop at Coronado Island, while late risers, or those with other breakfast plans, can join in the afternoon tour. Each session is limited to 20 persons in 10 tandems to keep it intimate. The cost is $44 per adult and $18 per child (2-14 years old) — $22 discount with your own kayak — and includes kayak, life vest, paddle, introductory lesson, and guide. Info: 619-282-3520, www.familykayak.com.

Paddle Diva's Mother’s Day Paddle
Get your mom's SUP groove going on Mother's Day with East Hampton, N.Y.'s Paddle Diva, which offers a special outing every Mother’s Day. Located on Three Mile Harbor in the Shagwong Marina (three miles north of East Hampton Town), Paddle Diva’s retail shop and SUP center offer lessons, tours, rentals and more, and can equip you and mom with everything you need. The store's special Mother’s Day SUP paddle costs $75 with rentals ($60 without) and lasts from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. "We're excited to offer something special for Moms and those who love them," says store owner and guide Gina Bradley. "It's the perfect gift for moms, or anyone else who wants to get out on the water. And all mom’s get a special gift from Paddle Diva when they arrive." Info: (631) 329-2999, www.paddlediva.com

The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island's Mother's Day Paddle, North Kingstown, RI
You can also take mom out for an adventure she'll never forget in the Ocean State with North Kingstown, R.I..'s Kayak Centre. Accompanied by a certified Kayak Centre guide you and mom will experience the charm of Wickford Village from its fleet of double kayaks, with no experience necessary. If you want to really show her you care, you can also shop from the 18-year-old store's selection of kayaks and other gear – it offers one of the largest selections of kayaks and accessories in the eastern U.S. The $40 tour includes equipment and guide and is offered twice — 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm – so you can do both and still fit in brunch between the two. Info: (401) 295-4400, http://store.kayakcentre.com/

Humboats Kayak Adventures
Tightening your belt these days? You can still show Mom that you care with one of the least expensive paddling outings in the country with Eureka, Calif's Humboats Kayak Adventures in Humboldt Bay. Moms and grandmas get to go free, and for everyone else the cost is only $20, with equipment and lesson included. Organized by store owner John "Hawk" Martin, the tour goes from 3 – 5 p.m. – plenty of time to digest your Mother's Day breakfast – and even offers the chance to get an up close and personal glimpse of whales from the seat of your kayak, something mom will remember for a lifetime. Info: (707) 443-5157, www.humboats.com

Florida Private Mother's Day Paddle
Down in the Panhandle State, private, experienced paddlers also pay onwater homage to mom every year, meeting up to take a paddle up Blackwater Creek to an aviary rookery on Lake Norris, where mother osprey, white egrets and turkey vultures nest in the ancient cypress trees to hatch their young. The first mile of the 8-mile-round-trip tour is tight and tree canopied, but you're soon rewarded with one of the most beautiful lakes in the state as it opens up into Lake Norris, a 2,352acre preserve riddled with ancient stunted cypress trees. Depending on your level of adventure, you can spend hours exploring the lake shore, weaving through the maze of cypress. Paddlers need to bring their own gear, lunch and water and since there are no fees involved your hosts – which change year to year — don't assume any liability. But they do guarantee it'll be a Mother's Day trip your mom won't soon forget. Info: www.meetup.com/adventuresinflorida/events/114531932/