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Enjoy the Lazy Days of Summer with Wingra Boats at Camp Wingra

By Marina I. Jokic

A family business at its heart, Wingra Boats in Madison, Wisconsin is found within Camp Wingra on the shore of the eponymous lake. Renting out sailboats, canoes, kayaks, row boats, and paddle boards, Wingra offers a trove of activities for even the most insatiable outdoor enthusiast.

Summer Jarosky, co-owner of the club, reminisces about the start of his career during his early teenage years. Along with his brother Tyler, Jarosky started his apprenticeship at Wingra, hungry to learn as much as possible about the different water sports and the great outdoors. Throughout their lives, the brothers seemed to be drawn back to the camp and the lake, eventually assuming ownership of the store.

"Returning to Madison to run Wingra Boats felt so natural, as the lake and the boat house have always been my home," Jarosky said. "For my family, Wingra Boats has always been our second home [and] over the years, we have enjoyed building it up, starting Camp Wingra and making it a second home for many people here in Madison."

In 2005, a freshly minted college graduate, Tyler resolved to take over the business from his mentor, the previous owner Bob Glebs. Shortly after, Jarosky returned to Madison after coordinating REI's outdoor programs in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to join forces with Tyler.

It wasn't merely the work that appealed to them. They also made it their mission to connect people to each other and to nature through outdoor recreation and education. Giving people the opportunity to experience Wisconsin's unspoiled wilderness and crystal lakes was the main incentive for Jarosky to continue the rental business. Soon enough, Tyler opened a second location with his other business partner, Stephen Reinke, in Brittingham Park and a third followed soon after in Marshall Park.

"I love the people, and the community," Jarosky said. "I think Tyler, Stephan and [I] can agree that it is so cool to watch friends go out on the water together and come back as family, [and for families to] go out on the water and come back as friends."

Brittingham Boats' success in revitalizing a Madison park that was underutilized breathed new life into the community. The team wanted to continue expanding public lake access in Madison. After thinking and planning for three years, and with the permission of the Parks Department, they opened their third boat rental, Marshall Boats.

The relatively new day camp option of these enterprises is a big draw for kids. Jarosky's family helped make Camp Wingra the premier watersports and fishing camp in the area with a low camper-to-counselor ratio and the ability for kids to be out in nature. In fact, the camp has become so popular that this year, all the spots were booked within a day.

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