The Island Spirit Kayak Team members come from various walks of life, bringing brilliant and diverse talents to the company. They are a high-spirited group of dedicated kayakers whom are all annually trained for CPR, First Aid, and Ocean Rescue.
Maggie Johnson, Manager & Returning Guide for her 4th Year. The woman who does it all. Even though Maggie is an amazing guide you will also find her shaving ice in the Spirit Shack, renting kayaks or organizing everything, she’s is just to good at it all to keep her in one spot. She is also Captain of the girls Hockey and Field Hockey Teams. This year, she lead her hockey team to the island’s first ever State Tournament!
Alexis Rosa, Returning Guide for his 3rd Year. Watch out for this wildman! A vieques native and islander by heart, you’ll find Alexi singing and dancing when he thinks no one is watching. He is contagiously happy and provides a truly unique experience for our paddlers on every tour.
Liam O’Callahan Our newest Rock Star. Liam is an avid rock climber, surfer, kayaker, you name it. He is currently going to school to be a professional adventure guide. Our prediction is you’ll see him in a National Geographic Exploration photo within the next few years…
Tyler Stapleton, 8th Year as Jack of all trades & part owner. Tyler is the behind the scenes man that makes it all happen; re-wiring our trailer lights, fixing the generator and generally making right whatever disasters arise. You will find him long boarding along State Beach or quick snippets of him under a trailer or bringing us supplies. What would we do without him?
Collin Stapleton, (not a guide yet, but he’s learning)… You will find Collin eating shave ice, swimming at Little Bridge and occasionally kayaking on his mom’s lap. Watch out for this one as he will soon be Island Spirit’s BMOC(we hope).
Chick Stapleton, 13th Year, Owner Chick Stapleton founded Island Spirit Kayak in her hometown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in 2000. After graduating Boston University she worked as a bartender at Lola’s by night and as a kayak instructor by day. Starting with just three kayaks, she lead groups of two until she could afford another kayak, then another. Her dream of being Julie from the Love Boat combined with a passion for paddling made introducing others to the beauty of the Vineyard from the water, the perfect combination.
On the off seasons she completed guide certifications and traveled the world working for other kayak companies. After completing her BCU certification in Nova Scotia, she guided for Scotia Kayaking on Cape Breton. Wilderness camping and kayaking with huge pods of whales was their specialty. She was capsized by a pilot whale off Chetticamp while guiding a tour, encountered bears and moose while camping and had an all-in situation from a rogue wave off the cliffs in a no land zone. It was an extreme and amazing experience.
After another summer building Island Spirit Kayak by day and bartending by night she decided to get her feet wet in the Indian Ocean. Dave Williams, an expatriate white water guru and owner of the very successful Paddle Asia, took her under his wing for a winter. She assisted in kayak tours all around Thailand including Phang Nga, Phuket, Trang, Koh Yao Noi & Khao Sok. For an amazing article written about kayaking Khao Sok, encountering gibbons and underwater cave diving where Chick was one of the leaders, click here.
By 2004 Chick was working full time as a kayak guide with a fleet of more than 45 kayaks, two trailers and 4 other guides. Next winter she drove to San Francisco to lead tours and certify guides in the Point Reyes area for Blue Waters Kayak, California Canoe & Kayak and Sea Trek. She also had the opportunity to train and play with the Golden Gate Breakers canoe polo team and compete in National Events. Canoe Polo Article Boston Herald
In 2006, Cape Cod Life voted Chick among Cape Cod’s top 20 most intriguing people. In 2007 she met Governor Deval Patrick whom presented her the U.S. Small Business Administration’s, Massachusetts Young Entrepreneur of the year.
While planning her next winter of kayaking in Laos & Myanmar, she stumbled upon Tyler Stapleton at a Blues Traveler concert at the Hot Tin Roof. It was love at first sight and the one time sailor is now a successfully converted kayaker. After a few winters of “settling down” and living on Vieques, Puerto Rico, they are now married and have a beautiful son Collin (who, in a few years, will be put to work as the youngest kayak guide ever).
In 2013 Island Spirit Kayak is entering into its 13th year in business. They could not be more passionate and thankful for all they have to offer, with a team of 6 full time fabulous staff, The Spirit Shack (beach concession stand), and their kayak location on State Beach. Chick is now an Executive Member of the Board of Directors for Friends of Sengekontacket Pond, dedicated to the preservation of Sengekontacket Pond and its barrier beaches. The Stapleton family lives on the Vineyard year round in their home in Oak Bluffs.
BCU (British Canoe Union): 3 Star, Coastal Adventures Sea-Kayaking School, Tangier, Nova Scotia: 2001
AESKO (Association of Eastern Canadian Sea Kayaking Outfitters): Instructor Training, Coastal Adventures Sea-Kayaking School, Tangier, Nova Scotia: 2001
CRCA (Canadian Recreation Canoe Association): Level 3, Coastal Adventures Sea-Kayaking School, Tangier, Nova Scotia: 2001
ACA LEVEL 3 – Coastal Kayaking, Wild River Outfitters Touring Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia: 2002
Wilderness Guide Paddle Asia: Phuket, THAILAND: 2003
Greenland Skills Training, Walden Pond, MA 2000, Walden Qajaq Society (pond scum), Instructor: Cheri Perry (Greenland Qajaq Games Gold Medalist)
TIPS- (Training for Intervention ProcedureS)
Heart Saver CPR- Emergency Cardiac Care and Child First Responder
Basic Wilderness First Aid- SOLO
Advanced Open Water/Archaeology Diver- PADI
New York Times: 2009 Ten things not to miss on Martha’s Vineyard, Island Spirit Kayak.
Cape Cod Life: 2009 Best Kid’s Activity, Island Spirit Kayak.
U.S. Small Business Administration
2007 Massachusetts Young Entrepreneur of the Year, awarded by Massachusetts Governor Duvall Patrick .
Cape Cod Life, 2006 Cape Cod’s top 20 most intriguing people.
Boston University, School of Hospitality Administration, Bachelor of Science, May 2000
Major: Hotel, Restaurant, and Hospitality Management
Sydney Olympic Committee Internship Program, ‘99-’00
Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Graduated May 1996
Our past Rock Stars! These guides have been part of our family and sometimes still do make a guest appearance. I couldn’t bear to delete them from our archives, so here they are some of our best paddlers of yesteryear…
Veronika Buckley, Returning Guide for her 8thYear New mom and Kayak Kamp instructor extraordinaire joins us during her summers from teaching 4th grade . She is often seen kayaking with her dog, Rusty, and floating through the Little Bridge Lazy River. She has lived on the island for 15 years but we still call her a “Washashore.”
Greg Bennett, Returning Guide for his 5th Year Our Greenland style paddling guru and Kayak Ultimate Frisbee champ is a loved and sought after guide. Greg is an island native, extremely patient instructor and personable guide. You will see Greg demonstrating his Eskimo Rolling tricks to the masses between tours.
Jessie Kahozack, Returning Guide for her 4th Year As a former shellfish constable on the island, Jessie can tell you more about island scallops than your average textbook. She has initiated the Shellfish Recovery group in her spare time from being a full time manager at Offshore Ale & full time kayak guide. You can find Jessie performing amazing act of balance on a SUP or kayak or driving around the island collecting shells to recycle.
Nick Albertson, Returning Guide for his 4th Year In addition to kayaking, Nick also loves most extreme sports, such as skiing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Nick attends Duke University, where he is studying mechanical engineering, and alsoplays on the Duke Quidditch team. He played in the Quidditch World Cup in 2010 and plans to stick with it throughout his years at Duke.
Fun Fact: Nick has more Island Sprit t-shirts than anyone else.