Promoting Paddle Club Instruction Again!

It’s Time to Promote Club Instruction Again!

In 35 years of paddling and teaching, I learned that the best way to introduce folks to safe and fun boating is to teach through paddling clubs. Paddling club instruction ranging from basic level and up provide a good local entry into paddling and a social group to continue boating. From there, people are ready to paddle or – if desired – are prepared for more advanced courses at paddling centers across the country.

Call.  This call-out asks anyone – at any paddling skill level – to work with me and/or others to become American Canoe Association (ACA) instructors. The ACA offers instruction in many different paddle disciplines at a wide range of skill levels. My vision is to work together as an informal group over the next few months to prepare for instructor development and certification.  More detail is available at and

Next Steps.  If you are teaching already, please let me know how I can help. If you want help to get ready to ‘give back’, please complete the secure SurveyMonkey survey that I set up at or contact me at [email protected]

Background. In January, I sailed in the Caribbean with kayaks aboard a 45’ Catamaran. I was a little down, however, as rotator cuff surgery (from age and years of lifting heavy canoes over my head) kept me from paddling.  My spirits took off when my five-year-old grandchild told her dad they he was a good boater.  He told her that she should ask me to teach her as I had done for him years ago. I worry though about where all the paddling instructors have gone.  Who will teach the next generation?

History. In the mid-1980s, Larry and Judy Wilde (sp?) kick-started a strong tradition of instruction through Texas and Louisiana paddling clubs by inviting Bunny Johns from Nantahala Outdoor Center to teach a group of HCC and other paddling club instructor candidates.  These clubs provided the momentum to allow me to propose and pilot the American Canoe Association’s PaddleAmerica program.  At the time (early 1990’s), we faced much skepticism, but the program thrived because of the Texas paddling clubs.  The successful program carries on nation-wide today.  For our efforts with PaddleAmerica, HCC Rendezvous, and instruction, Texas paddling clubs have been recognized through ACA’s prestigious paddling club of the year.

Disclosures. As I recently started to paddle seriously again, I was frustrated by the lack of choice in kayak and canoes.  From my Texas Water Safari experiences, I learned to appreciate light performance boats that last.  To help bring availability of higher end boats to Texas and surrounding states within a legal framework, I started my own company - RiverCoast LLC at - for selling new (and sometimes used boats) and offering instruction.  However, this call to action is focused strictly on instruction through the not-for-profit paddling clubs.

Contact. Please feel free to share this post with other paddling clubs.  (I copied it to the blog page of the RiverCoast website for easy access.)  Again, suggestions or clarifications are welcome through the short survey at or contact at [email protected]  I look forward to paddling with you!