Girl Paddler Profile: Beth Felicelli (US)

Welcome to our series of profiles on our Girl Paddlers community!
We have a diverse, global community who all bring something unique to our group.
Let’s get to know them, in their own words…  

Meet Girl Paddler – Beth Felicelli from the US! 

GP: Hi Beth! Please tell us about yourself.

Beth: I’m Beth, and live in Holland, Michigan, which is along the Lake Michigan coastline. I am an avid SUPer and occasionally kayak. I love to find new locations and adventures to SUP!

In real life, I work in pathology, but last year my husband and I started our own business: Tulip City Paddle Tours. It’s been a fun, active way to show people Holland from the water.

My husband passed away a couple of months ago from cancer, but we’ve had so many great times on the water and I plan to continue the adventures!

(GP personal note from Sonya, Founder): Beth, losing a spouse is an unimaginable pain. Please accept my sincere condolences and know that our thoughts are with you and your family.

GP: What inspired you to start paddling, and how long have you been paddling?

Beth: I’ve been SUPing for about five years, becoming much more hardcore three years ago. I’ve been kayaking for about 15 years now. The peace of the water plus being active are what originally caught my interest.

I’ve been wanting to SUP since I first learned of it about 12 years ago and when I finally tried it, I knew it was for me.

GP: Can you share some of your favorite paddling spots or routes and why you enjoy them?

Beth: In Holland, I love to paddle to and around Windmill Island. This is a fun spot to see nature as well as our Dutch landmarks.

Also, Pigeon Lake and taking the channel to Lake Michigan.

I love to be out for hours and to find restaurants along the water to stop at. Or finding cool landscapes or wildlife. Or just enjoying a sunrise or sunset, packing breakfast or snacks/drinks.

GP: How do you typically plan your paddling trips, and what essentials do you always bring with you?

Beth: Essentials: water, car key, phone. My regular outings I don’t really plan; I just go. Maybe I’ll pack a cooler. I always am checking the weather and the wind.

For my adventures, I do research. I’ll find new launch sites (mostly with the GoPaddling app) and research restaurants or fun places to see.

Some of my adventures have included Turnip Rock, Detroit canals, the underground gorge in KY, Lake Red Rock in Iowa, the Colorado River through Moab, and the Great Salt Lake. I’ve SUPed in four of the five Great Lakes (I still need Superior).

GP: What benefits have you experienced from paddling, both physically and mentally?

Beth: The peacefulness and tranquility are phenomenal. The water brings peace.

Through my husband’s cancer path, when we could go out together, it would be such a peaceful time. Or when he’s had some big struggles, I’ll get out there on my own to just think and have time to myself. As for physically, my core and balance have become so strong. I push myself with various challenges (breaking 15 min miles; learning how to do headstands so I could do them on my board).

GP: How has paddling influenced your relationship with nature, and what do you appreciate most about being out on the water?

Beth: I’ve become a MI Paddle Steward. I’ve taken the course, and this has made me so much more aware.

I pay attention to the beauty but also to invasive species. We always pick up trash we find in the water. I have a newfound interest in various birds, especially seeing cranes and bald eagles. But mostly, again, I’ll say the peacefulness.

GP: What advice would you give to someone who is new to paddling and looking to get started?

Beth: It’s okay to take it slowly. Start in calm water. For SUP, always have a leash and PFD. On a paddle board, you can stand, sit, kneel, lie down, and all are okay! Keep knees bent; look forward.

GP: Can you describe a particularly memorable or meaningful experience you’ve had while paddling?

Beth: My husband mostly kayaked but would get on a board on occasion, staying on his knees or seated. Last Sept we went out on boards at sunset. We talked about how he wanted me to teach him to stand next summer. We shared laughs and stories. Knowing now it was our last time on the water together makes it even more meaningful and memorable to me.

GP: How has your approach to paddling changed over time, and what have you learned from your experiences?

Beth: I’m way more adventurous. I’ll go anywhere! I know the appropriate clothing to wear for what weather. I’ve learned so much! How to paddle in different conditions. Paddling for speed. Paddling for fun or through boat wakes. Practicing buoy turns. I don’t mind falling in if the water is warm enough, so I’m not afraid to try fun tricks or choppy water. I always bring a phone just in case. I used to not want it, to be at complete peace. But it’s not like I notice a call or text, so I keep it for emergencies and to take pictures.

GP: Can you share any upcoming paddling adventures or goals you have in mind and what you are most looking forward to about them?*

Beth: I have a long bucket list for locations in Michigan, the USA, and the world. I do want to get to Lake Superior soon, ideally Pictured Rocks. I had plans last month to SUP through Mammoth Caves, but that water level was too high, and they wouldn’t let us out there. Found a nearby lake instead. Nothing else specific on my calendar at the moment. I also want to do an overnight SUP/camping trip someday.

GP: Is there anything else you’d like to share? Maybe let us know what you think is missing in the world of paddling for women? What are some of the challenges you have in your paddling journey? 

Beth: Always use bow straps if going on the expressway (or anything more than about 60-70mph). A few years ago, we had two kayaks strapped on our kayak racks attached to our cross bars on the roof rack. The cross bars busted off on the expressway. Kayaks, racks, and bars all went flying to the road behind us. So scary!

GP: Thank you Beth! We appreciate you sharing your story with us, and love your candor and trust, sharing stories of your late husband.

If you have any questions or comments for Beth, leave a comment below.

You can also find Beth on Instagram @tulipcitypaddlertours, on her website, and in our Facebook Group: Girl Paddlers.

If you’re interested in being profiled on Girl Paddlers, please leave a comment below or email us at [email protected]


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top