Canoe & Kayak Instruction
The Canoe & Kayak Committee (CKC) of AMC’s New York-North Jersey Chapter provides 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). Learn about the Trip Rating System here.
Our volunteer instructors are friendly, patient, and encouraging. Many are American Canoe Association- (ACA) certified canoeing or kayak instructors. They genuinely enjoy teaching and sharing their love of the sport with you.
- Beginner Courses: Our Basic Instruction courses are offered several times a year to introduce beginners to paddle sport. They range from one to three 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 introductory courses, we offer canoe and kayak courses for the novice, intermediate, and advanced paddlers to improve the skill levels of all our paddlers and leaders. These courses include rolling clinics, advanced whitewater techniques, and carving turns.
- Specialized Courses: We offer additional courses, some of which relate to non-paddling skills, such as knots & lines and leader training.
- Safety and Rescue Courses: Safety is our main concern. We promote safe and fun paddling, and to that purpose, we teach safety and rescue classes.
See below for more detailed descriptions of the courses outlined above. For more information, contact the Canoe & Kayak Committee at email@example.com.
Paddling Courses for Beginners
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. The student should be comfortable floating in water over their head. Instruction is given on a pond or lake and Class 1 (novice) whitewater. The student will be taught kayak nomenclature, basic strokes and maneuvers, and basic boating safety. They 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. The student should be comfortable floating in water over their head. Instruction is given on a pond or lake, slow-moving water, and the student will be taught canoe nomenclature, basic strokes and flatwater maneuvers, and basic boating safety. The student 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” (“quiet water”).
FLATWATER COASTAL KAYAKING INSTRUCTION: Intended to prepare beginners and intermediate paddlers to paddle comfortably and safely on protected flatwater environments with conditions not exceeding 1-foot seas, 10-knot winds, and no more than a half mile offshore.
Courses in 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 course is designed to prepare paddlers to paddle comfortably and safely in 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 in Class 1 or 1+ whitewater. The prerequisites are: The student should be able to control the boat in Class 1 whitewater. They should be able to choose a path through a Class 1 rapid and avoid obstacles. Possession of a Class 1 rating with the Club indicates that the student may be ready for this course, though it is not required if they have equivalent experience. It is recommended that the student take Basic Safety and Rescue before taking this class. This course focuses on how to take the skills learned in Beginning Whitewater Kayak Instruction and apply them to the faster water, stronger currents, and more challenging 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 their advantage. The student 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 used for this class. The class will be held in 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, and 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 contemporary playboat’s design to significantly increase the paddler’s efficiency. The class is held on flatwater and Class 1+/2 whitewater.
Specialized Courses in Canoeing and Kayaking
KAYAK ROLLING CLINIC: Intended for novice kayak (K-1) paddlers who want to learn effective bracing and an “Eskimo Roll” or practice and refine that skill. This course is strongly recommended for all closed-boat paddlers.
KAYAK PLAYBOATING CLINIC: Intended for intermediate to advanced kayak (K-1) paddlers who want to learn or improve playboating skills. Topics covered: surfing techniques, stern squirt, bow stall, etc. Paddler must have a consistent roll.
BOAT OUTFITTING CLINIC: This clinic will cover topics on properly outfitting your kayak (K1) or canoe (OC1 or C1).
SLALOM CLINIC: This 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. The clinic features a no-pressure slalom race for participants. They are held on a Class I river with slalom gates set up.
KNOTS & LINES CLINIC: Intended primarily for canoeists and kayakers, but hikers, backpackers, climbers, et al. are welcome too! Learn about the care and use of modern line (rope) and knots, especially useful ones in boating. The Yosemite figure-8 series of knots are stressed and highly recommended for boaters planning to take a Basic or Advanced Safety and Rescue course.
LEADER TRAINING WORKSHOP: 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 New York-North Jersey Chapter Canoe & Kayak Committee.
Safety and 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 and 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, and responsibility. This course is strongly recommended for all intermediate and advanced paddlers.
Ready to hit the water? Learn how to register for trips with CKC here.