Tod and Joyce Novak take Moises for a paddleboat ride during the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County event Saturday at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort. (Susan Hoffman, Daily Pilot / August 9, 2014)

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  • Canoeing and Kayaking

Before leaving the beach at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort on Saturday morning, Tod Novak prepared his 7-year-old kayaking partner and little brother for the day.

"All right Moises, this one is yours," he said, handing over a paddle at least twice as tall as the kid.

For about five months, Tod and Joyce Novak — a married couple from Newport Beach — have gotten to know Moises through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, which asked that the children in the program only be identified by their first names.

The organization matches up kids with older mentors for activities like the trip to Newport Dunes, where 150 littles and bigs, as they're called, kayaked, paddle boated or stand-up paddleboarded through the Back Bay.

On Saturday, Moises mugged for a camera as he and Tod left the beach with Joyce watching from the sand.

"It's fun getting him out and doing things for the first time," she said. "He's a pretty outgoing guy."

UnitedHealthcare sponsored the fifth annual kayaking day that also included activities such as volleyball and lawn games to help teach healthy fitness habits.

Just down the beach, 12-year-old Zoe from Costa Mesa ran stomping into the shallow water with Ally Cammell, her big sister for the last two years.

Zoe grabbed onto a red pedal boat and the two started to push it into the bay.

"What if this thing sinks?" Zoe said with more excitement than fear in her voice.

The thought didn't slow her down at all.

"Oh, OK I got this," she said as she donned a life jacket and jumped on.