Appalachian Mountain Club

Canoe & Kayak Instruction


AMC NY-NoJ Canoe and Kayak Instruction

The AMC Canoe Kayak Committee (CKC) offers a variety of instructional courses to introduce you to the many joys of paddling a canoe or kayak. We offer classes in quiet water (small lakes, streams), touring water (larger lakes, sea kayaking), and whitewater (gentle riffles and up to roller coaster rides). Our instructors are friendly, patient and encouraging. They genuinely enjoy teaching and sharing their love of the sport with you. Many of them are American Canoe Association (ACA) Certified Canoeing or Kayak Instructors, and all of them are volunteers.

  • Beginner Courses – Our Basic Instruction Courses are offered several times a year to introduce beginners to paddlesport. They range from 1 to 3 days. Typical course topics include terminology, equipment selection and care, boat transportation, paddling posture, basic strokes and safe paddling techniques. In short, everything you need to know to begin your paddling career. No prior experience is required.

  • Paddling Skill Courses – In addition to the basic courses, we offer canoe and kayak courses for novice, intermediate and advanced paddler, to improve the skill levels of all of our paddlers and leaders. Some of these courses include rolling clinics, advanced whitewater techniques, and carving turns.

  • Safety & Rescue Courses – Safety is our main concern. We promote safe and fun paddling and to that purpose we teach safety and rescue classes.

  • Special Courses – We offer additional courses, some of which relate to non-paddling skills, such as knots & lines and leader training.

  • Pool Sessions – Beginning in the winter and lasting into early spring, we offer pool paddling sessions at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) pool in Newark, NJ. Indoor pools are ideal for learning some of the paddling skills, including rolling a boat.

See below for more detailed descriptions of the courses outlined above. For more information, contact the Canoe and Kayak Committee at canoekayak@amc-ny.org.

 

Detailed Course Descriptions

 

BEGINNER COURSES

BEGINNER WHITEWATER KAYAK INSTRUCTION: – This course is intended for anyone who has never paddled before, or has paddled but never had any formal instruction. The course is open to anyone with a desire to learn. No experience is necessary. All that is required is that the student should be comfortable floating in water that is over his/her head. Instruction is given on a pond or lake and on Class 1 (novice) whitewater. The student will be taught kayak nomenclature, basic strokes and maneuvers, and basic boating safety. He/she will also be introduced to river reading and beginning whitewater techniques. The kayak roll will be introduced, though mastery is not expected. Upon completion of this course, the student will be prepared to participate in Club trips that are rated “Cl 1” (Class 1 whitewater)

BASIC CANOE INSTRUCTION: – This course is intended for anyone who has never paddled before, or has paddled but never had any formal instruction. The course is open to anyone with a desire to learn. No experience is necessary. All that is required is that the student should be comfortable floating in water that is over his/her head. Instruction is given on a pond or lake and on easy moving water. The student will be taught canoe nomenclature, basic strokes and flatwater maneuvers, and basic boating safety. He/she will also be introduced to river reading and some beginning moving water techniques. Upon completion of this course, the student will be prepared to participate in Club trips that are rated “QW” (“quietwater”).

FLATWATER COASTAL KAYAKING INSTRUCTION: – Intended to prepare beginners and intermediate paddlers to comfortably and safely paddle on protected, flat water environments with conditions not exceeding 1 foot seas, 10 knot winds and be no more than ½ mile off shore.

 

PADDLING SKILLS

OPEN WATER COASTAL KAYAKING INSTRUCTION: – Intended to provide flatwater course (or equivalent experience) graduates with an introduction to advanced strokes and maneuvers, open water rescues, on water navigation and safety concerns related to open water. This coarse is designed to prepare paddlers to paddle comfortably and safely on open water environments with conditions not to exceed 2 foot seas, 15 knot winds and be no more than 1 mile from shore.

INTERMEDIATE WHITEWATER KAYAK INSTRUCTION: – This course is intended for someone who has some experience on Class 1 or 1+ whitewater. The prerequisites are: The student should be able to control the boat in Class 1 whitewater. He/she should be able to choose a path through a class 1 rapid and avoid obstacles. Possession of a Class 1 rating with the Club is an indicator that the student may be ready for this course, though it is not required if the student has equivalent experience. It is recommended that the student should also take Basic Safety and Rescue before taking this class. The focus of this course is on how to take the skills learned in Beginning Whitewater Kayak Instruction and apply them to the faster water, stronger currents, and more complicated rapids of Class 2 (intermediate) whitewater. The student will learn river reading techniques, how to choose a route through a complicated rapid, and how to use the river features to his advantage. He will be introduced to the concept and techniques of “playing” the river, instead of just “running” it.

ADVANCED WHITEWATER TECHNIQUES: – This course is intended for experienced Class 2 paddlers. The student should have at least one year of experience on Class 2 whitewater, in the boat that will be used for this class. The class will be held on Class 2+ and Class 3 (advanced) whitewater. In general, the course will cover such areas as advanced river reading and efficient paddle technique, but the exact course content will be adjusted to meet the specific needs of the students.

SOLO OPEN CANOE FORWARD STROKE WORKSHOP: – Is entirely devoted to improving your whitewater forward stroke: torso rotation, stern “pop”, modern J-stroke, carving U-turns, paddling an effective straight line without correction strokes.

CARVING TURNS WORKSHOP: This one-day workshop is intended for experienced Class 2 canoe paddlers. The focus is on the modern paddling technique known as “carving”, or “paddling the inside circle”. This technique works with the design of the modern playboat to greatly increase the paddler’s efficiency. The class is held on flatwater and Class 1+/2 whitewater.

 

SPECIAL COURSES

KAYAK ROLLING CLINIC: – Intended for novice kayak (K-1) paddlers, who want to learn how to do effective bracing and an “Eskimo Roll” or to practice and refine that skill. This course is strongly recommended for all closed boat paddlers.  For additional information, refer to Pool Sessions [hyperlink].

KAYAK PLAYBOATING CLINIC: – Intended for intermediate to advanced kayak (K-1) paddlers, who want to learn or improve playboating skills. Paddler must have a consistent roll. Topics covered: surfing techniques, stern squart, bow stall…

BOAT OUTFITTING CLINIC: – This clinic will cover topics on how to properly outfit your kayak (K1) or canoe (OC1 or C1).

SLALOM CLINIC: – Is an introduction to the sport of whitewater canoe and kayak slalom racing. Open to novice and intermediate, tandem and solo, closed and open boaters, this clinic helps paddlers become more confident and precise in boat control. Held on a Class I river with a slalom gates set up, the clinic features a no-pressure slalom race for participants.

KNOTS & LINES CLINIC: – intended primarily for canoeists and kayakers, but hikers, backpackers, climbers et al. welcome too! Highly recommended for boaters planning to take a Basic or Advanced Safety & Rescue course. Learn about the care and use of modern line (rope) and how to tie knots especially useful in boating. The Yosemite figure-8 series of knots is stressed.

LEADER TRAINING WORKSHOP: – is a one or two day instructional workshop for experienced paddlers of any skill level who wish to learn how to lead a successful canoe/kayak trip for the NY-NoJ Chapter Canoe & Kayak Committee

 

SAFETY & RESCUE COURSES:

BASIC SAFETY AND RESCUE: – For open and closed boaters who are just learning to paddle moving water. We cover how to rescue yourself and others, how to identify and avoid river hazards, safely swimming through rapids, outfitting your boat for whitewater, dressing to avoid hypothermia, what you can do to assist your rescuer and simple boat recovery. This course is strongly recommended for all paddlers and satisfies the safety requirement for a Class 2 rating.

ADVANCED SAFETY AND RESCUE: – An extension of the basic safety & rescue course for intermediate open and closed boaters. This workshop emphasizes working in a team to perform technical rescues and boat recoveries on whitewater up to Class 3. Rescues from foot entrapments, vertical pins, strainers and other scenarios will be practiced using rescue PFDs, strong-swimmer assists and rope-based rescue techniques. Z-drag extractions of pinned boats are also covered. Mock rescue scenarios will teach rescue site communication, organization & responsibility. This course is strongly recommended for all intermediate and advanced paddlers.

 

POOL SESSIONS:

Held at a metropolitan area pool during winter season, these sessions are for all skill levels – for those who have never tried paddling a canoe or kayak before and want to try one in warm water, to those advanced paddlers who wish to practice just plain paddling, running gates or Eskimo rolling. Open canoes, kayaks (K-1) and all

essential paddling gear (paddle, pfd, helmet, spray skirt) are available at each pool session. There will be a handful of instructors to help you with various skills.