SmartStart Paddler Orientation is a classroom session on basic safety and paddling skills. Learn about essential gear and clothing, trip planning, safety on the water, paddler responsibilities, how to  transport boats, balance and trim, loading and launching, common hazards, selecting and using lifejackets, terminology, boat and paddle design, paddle strokes, and basic maneuvers and rescues. 

Safety and Rescue  is a 4-hour course for covering essential safety and rescue techniques performed with a minimum of equipment.  Either Quickstart or Introduction is a prerequisite.

River Essentials is a day-long course on gently moving rivers where flat water rescues can be used.  Practice tight turns, efficient side slips, paddling backwards under control, braces, multiple corrective forward strokes, and heeling. Maneuvering and linking strokes in current is emphasized.  If you're moving up to paddling rapids, this offering is for you.

Kayak Instruction

Kayaking 101 Offerings: quiet water

Kayaking 201 Offerings: small waves or moving water 

QuickStart Your Kayak is a three-hour introduction on quiet water for paddlers to practice the skills discussed in SmartStart, with a focus on efficient forward and turning strokes to allow students to maneuver effectively and safely. Simple rescues are shown.

Introduction to Kayaking  is a six-hour course focusing on skills for any type of kayak. Paddling strokes are practiced more intensively than in the QuickStart course, and additional strokes are included.  Participants perform wet exit and re-entry, tows, and T-rescues. Scout leaders can earn Paddle Craft Safety or qualify as a merit badge counselor. Scouts may complete Kayaking Merit Badge.

A kayak's symmetry makes it easy for anyone to paddle.  However, there are strokes, skills, maneuvers, and safety procedures that might not be as easy to learn on your own.

For paddling sessions, please wear clothing and shoes appropriate for the water temperatures.  Avoid cotton clothing – no blue jeans or hooded sweatshirts. Expect to get wet and to continue paddling. Bring a complete change of clothes for afterwards.  Apply sunscreen, and you may need a hat, glasses' strap, rain gear, and insect protection. Bring water and an energy bar. Additionally, you'll want a boat, paddle, life jacket and for some sessions a wetsuit and sprayjacket, drysuit, helmet, or dog. Provide your own gear or contact Pilgrim Paddles.

Schedule a session by contacting

Kayak Touring Essentials is an eight-hour classroom and on-the-water course on overnight trips, risk management, group travel and safety, communication options, navigation, gear selection, and packing.  It prepares paddlers for near-shore trips on large lakes and protected ocean.  It covers tides and currents, marine traffic, and using VHF and weather radio.   If you're paddling on bigger lakes in bigger waves, this offering is for you.