Tennessee State Parks, TWRA Partner With American Canoe Association For Kayaking 101 Instruction To Kick Off National Safe Boating Week

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Kayaking at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in 2023
Kayaking at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in 2023
photo by Ande Demetriou

For the third year, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) are joining the Tennessee chapter of the American Canoe Association (ACA) to offer low-cost kayaking instruction Saturday, May 18.

The event is part of National Safe Boating Week. Last year, the event trained 279 students across North Carolina and Tennessee in 24 simultaneous Kayaking 101 classes led by nationally certified ACA instructor volunteers. The National Safe Boating Council recognized this effort with the Communications Community Impact Award.

As a result of the success realized in Tennessee and North Carolina last year, seven states are participating in the event this year with 43 simultaneous Kayaking 101 classes planned in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Missouri, and Florida.

“Doubling the number of classes and involving more states for more boaters is great,” said Greer Tidwell, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “We are happy to host these classes at Tennessee State Parks and grateful to the phenomenal volunteer instructors and our partners at TWRA and the ACA.”

“We want all Tennesseans to be safe while enjoying the state’s beautiful waterways,” said TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon. “We are excited to be part of this great partnership to highlight outdoor recreation opportunities and paddling safety skills.”

“Our instructor volunteers are so excited to share their love of the sport with newcomers and experienced paddlers alike,” said ACA Southeastern Chair Andrea White. “Just one day of training can make the difference between setting yourself up for a bad experience that ruins the sport for you versus setting yourself up for a whole lifetime of paddling fun.”

Participating Tennessee State Parks for the event are:

Big Ridge State Park

Booker T. Washington State Park

Cove Lake State Park

David Crockett Birthplace State Park

Harpeth River State Park

Harrison Bay State Park

Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park

Long Hunter State Park

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

Seven Islands State Birding Park

Warriors’ Path State Park

Classes cost $15 per person including a free kayak rental for training that often costs $75-$150.

All instructors are Tennessee volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training and are supported by experienced safety teams. TWRA wildlife officers will be present at various locations to emphasize and encourage paddlecraft safety on Tennessee waters.

Each park’s event will be limited to 15 people. A limited number of kayaks, paddles, and life jackets will be available. For the second year, the partnership is adding an Adaptive Kayaking 101 event at Booker T. Washington State Park. This event will have specialized adaptive paddling equipment available for paddlers with physical disabilities.

The classes are made available by certified instructor volunteers, safety boaters and equipment donations from many organizations, including Tennessee State Parks. These organizations include: Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts; Blues City Kayaks; Bluff City Canoe Club; Catalyst Sports; Chattanooga Therapeutic Recreation Services; Chota Canoe Club; East Tennessee Whitewater Club; Knoxville Kayaking Clinic; Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute; Sunseeker Outfitters; Team River Runner-Atlanta; Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association; Tennessee Valley Canoe Club; and Tennessee RiverLine.

Interested parties can register at this link. In-person spaces are limited. A free online class is also available; however, in-person training with a certified instructor is strongly encouraged.

More information is available at the American Canoe Association website.

The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddlesports education.

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