Burton Outdoor Adventures customers paddle on the south end of Lake Lanier.

Burton Outdoor Adventures customers paddle on the south end of Lake Lanier.

As a graduate student at the University of Georgia, Jason Burton finally gave in to a friend who encouraged him to go kayaking on the Broad River in town. It changed his life.

“I grew up around the water – in fact, loved the water – but kayaking didn’t interest me at all,” said the science teacher at Alpharetta High School. “But looking back on that first kayak paddle trip I can’t thank her enough for introducing me to the sport. After I went the first time, I was hooked.”

In early April, he and his wife Christine will open Burton Outdoor Adventures in Flowery Branch, to encourage people to paddle on and explore Lake Lanier. The business provides kayaks, paddleboards, life jackets, paddles and all the equipment. Shuttles leave every 30 minutes to launch at Old Federal Boat Launch, either dropping off passengers or bringing them back to the outfitter.

“What we offer is more than a rental service and shuttle,” said Burton, a certified kayak instructor through the American Canoe Association. “We want to introduce people to the fun of paddling and spending time outdoors, providing basic tips and instruction to make their time on the water safe and memorable.”

He also provides maps of suggested paddling destinations near the launch and places where the wake is usually minimal. “I like to send people to Daniel’s beach; you can’t get there by car, and it’s a really nice paddle.”

At full season from Memorial Day to early August, the business will be open seven days a week. He plans to have between 16 and 20 employees. He has purchased brand-new equipment, including 25 single-seat kayaks and 25 paddleboards. A 15-passenger van transports customers and equipment to the launch; he suggests that people reserve their timeslot online for the two-hour paddle sessions. Times can be extended.

Burton, 47, grew up in Michigan and Florida. Kayaking gave him a taste of adventure that manifested itself in whitewater kayaking around the globe.

With the opening of Burton Outdoor Adventures, he said he has found his calling.

“Even on that first paddle trip in 2005, kayaking just intuitively made sense to me,” he said. “Since then, I’ve paddled in Chile, Norway, Canada, across the country and around the globe, enjoying every minute. I’ve learned a great deal and want other people to have as much fun and adventure as I have. Our goal is to offer experienced instruction and make it as easy as possible to explore the lake.”

Hours for April and May are Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to sunset. Summer hours are seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to sunset through early August. Fall hours through the end of October, depending on the weather, will be 8 a.m. to sunset on Saturdays and Sundays.

Burton Outdoor Adventures is located at 5962, next to Pop Stop. For more information or to register for kayaking and paddleboarding on Lanier, call 678 828-8119 or visit burtonoutdooradventures.com.