Night Canoeing on Lake Matoaka!

Maybe it’s because I grew up going to lakes (I’ll admit, redneck yacht club -style), but to me, there’s just something about them that sucks me in and wins me over. Being on a lake, near a lake or within short distance of a lake will instantly multiply the value of any location for me.

William and Mary’s campus has its own lake. Did you know that? If you’re a student, then yes, I know you knew that, but have you taken advantage of it lately (or ever)?

Did you know that the Lake Matoaka Boathouse is open for canoe rentals (free with your student ID) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-5 and Saturdays from 2-5? Did you know that there’s a zipline that runs across Lake Matoaka? Did you know that the Outdoor Rec club hosts free excursions on Lake Matoaka throughout the year? If I had to guess, it could very well be your fourth (or fifth) and final year at the College, and you still haven’t really experienced that questionable but still beautiful water. Shame on you.

One of my very favorite places to drive by in Williamsburg is the spot on Jamestown Road when you’re coming from 199 and headed towards campus where Lake Matoaka opens up on your left. You think you’re in suburbia Williamsburg headed towards Colonial Disney World, and then boom — there’s this huge spanse of water and woods, like something out of a magazine or that Bob Ross would have painted, right outside your car window for about 2 seconds. Every time I drive by, I yell at myeslf to start taking advantage of Lake Matoaka more often. Well, tonight I made major progress. 🙂


I’d heard that once in a blue moon (no pun intended, hehe) the Outdoor Rec club takes students out in canoes after-hours on the lake. When I saw an advertisement about it in my Student Happenings email a few weeks ago, I signed up right away.

We met up tonight at the boathouse to get the adventure started. There had been a huge demand for this FREE canoe trip; the waiting list was over 40 people long!! BUT, only about 7 of us showed up tonight. I guess the cold scared them away? Forty-six degrees isn’t really that cold, people. You wimps.

Anyway, it was one of the coolest things I have done at William and Mary. We went out in double canoes, attached lightsticks to our boats so we wouldn’t accidentally crash into each other, and then we headed out. No rules, no time limits (well, we had to be back by 11 p.m. — 3 hours later — but the lake isn’t that big), no lights. Just us, the lake and the stars.

Did you know that  Matoaka has 3 main fingers to its lake?  Did you know that the middle one is the longest? Did you know that you can paddle practically right up to Jamestown Road? Did you know that that lake goes right up along the Matoaka Art Studio and then behind the tennis courts? Did you know that while Williamsburg has always been great for stargazing, the constellations are way better from the middle of the water?

I feel like there’s something really sad about living so close to something, knowing it’s there, pointing it out to hundreds of visitors after tours from the Admission Office, yet never really doing anything about it. Exploring Matoaka at night tonight felt like I was taking real ownership of my college experience. I feel like I know and belong to this campus a little bit more than I did this afternoon.

If you’re a prospective student reading this, go out and do the same wherever you are. Explore that part of your school or your hometown that you always say you will. And if you’re a current W&M student, ditto. We brag like crazy about our gorgeous campus and all it has to offer. Brag about taking up those offers, and really mean what you say.

Just watch out for the Lake Mataoka Sea Monster while you’re doing it. 🙂

Categories: Campus Life, Student Blogs

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