Skill Classes

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We have combined our years of paddling and teaching experience with the ACA approved curriculum to design learning experiences that are fun, informative and challenging. Paddling is a great sport and we want to help you get the most from it. Whether you are a solo paddler who is looking to make your boat dance, a family that is looking for a great outdoor adventure or the couple that wants to paddle in harmony, we can help you to move closer to your goal.

Throughout the region of the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence and the Northern Forest of the eastern US, we are blessed to have an abundance of paddle-able water of all shapes, sizes and flows. Within 4 to 5 hours out there is some of the best canoeing and kayaking to be found anywhere in the Adirondacks. A true paddler’s haven with opportunities for day explorations and multi-day wilderness trips. Our goal is help to make these venues more accessible to people by helping them to build their skills, confidence and knowledge.

Most of our sessions are designed for those who have some paddling experience and the objective is to provide you with the opportunity to improve your skills and confidence level. That may mean learning the keys to making your strokes more elegant with the underwater recovery, challenging your balance and boat control with freestyle maneuvers, being coached through a self rescue in a kayak, getting more comfortable in wind and waves or just learning the proper mechanics for the most used strokes in a canoe or kayak. Like many other sports and activities the higher our skill level the more we can do. Boats seem to get blamed for a lot of the discomfort and lack of control that people feel but in most cases it is us and not the boat. Sure, most boats are better at one thing but not as good as another boat at something else, but all boats have more capabilities that the average paddler can get out of the them.

All of our sessions can be done in public groups, private groups or as individual sessions and all include safety and rescue components as part of the curriculum.

Advanced Touring Canoe – FreeStyle


The Advanced Touring Canoe discipline combines stroke elements into maneuvers, and body posture/placement with pitch and heel, resulting in fluid and precise boat placement and handling.  

The ATC or FreeStyle skills are applicable in:

  • river or stream environments,
  • flatwater maneuvering through marshes, and
  • stronger skills for wind and waves.  

Practicing ATC, makes everyday paddling much more intuitive, and enjoyable.  

Who doesn’t like a well trained canoe?

Canoe and Kayak Safety and Rescue Clinic

Although safety and rescue are introduced in our other on water clinics it takes coaching and practice to develop a reliable array of techniques.

This session is designed to provide concentrated time on demonstrations and practice of various appropriate self and assisted rescue techniques for both canoe and kayak.

We also provide insight into mixed craft canoe-kayak rescues since there can be an array of both craft in any typical group outing. We cover safety equipment, clothing, rescue protocol (role of the rescuer and those being rescued) and weather concerns.  Paddle float re-entry, wet exits and 2 craft assisted rescue are some of the techniques covered.

Canoe Skills


Perhaps the most challenging paddle craft, but also the most rewarding and versatile, there are many ways to improve the solo paddling experience. This one day clinic is designed to help the new and advanced solo canoeist to gain new skills, levels of confidence and knowledge about how to build a better relationship with their boat. We will cover essential strokes and linkages, heel and pitch, advanced strokes including underwater recovery, side slips, reverse J and even the four basic freestyle maneuvers.


Grace, style and teamwork in a tandem canoe – seems to elude many couples.  Here is your chance to take your tandem paddling experience to the next level.  This 6 hour course is designed specifically for couples. Basic and advanced techniques, such as bow steering, will be covered along with the all important elements of communication, cadence and appreciation of and making the most of each other’s paddling style. The session is customized to the needs and goals of the participants. This session includes an on water assessment, skill training and post session practice tips.  So whether you are looking to improve that sunset paddle or are contemplating a week long sojourn on the NFCT, this is a way to add some grace, style and harmony to your tandem experience.


This ½ day session is designed to help anyone who is new to canoeing (or is brushing off the old one that has set for a few years) and really wants to get the quick instruction on safety, carrying, getting in and out, and paddling basics (turning, going straight, stopping).

Kayak Skills


Want to eliminate the zig-zag, handle turns better and have less arm fatigue?  This full day, six hour class is designed to give the solo kayaker exposure to proper stroke technique, safety and rescue skills and overall boat maneuvering. We will help you improve your efficiency with the proper forward stroke and turning techniques. We will also cover the basic differences between recreational, touring and sea kayaks including the proper use of features such as rudders, spray skirts, grab lines and storage areas. Rescue skills will be introduced as we cover solo re-entry and assisted re-entry with various options for both recreational and touring kayaks.


This ½ day session is designed to help anyone who is new to kayaking and really wants to get the quick instruction on safety, carrying, getting in and out, and paddling basics (turning, going straight, stopping). Kayaks are the fastest growing segment of the paddle sport community as they are pretty easy to learn, but good technique from the beginning will enhance both your enjoyment and safety.

Specialty Clinics

Kid’s Kayak Clinics at ADK Paddlefest. Old Forge, NY

Kids just want to have fun!  So why not introduce them to the fun of kayaking??? In these clinics, children ages 6 to 12 will be introduced to the safety and paddling basics – life jackets, getting in and out of a kayak, going forward, backward and easy turns. Then it’s on to games such as follow the leader, races and obstacle course where the learning becomes fun. The sessions are specially designed to build confidence and provide ideas for making your family outings more enjoyable. Each session is limited to 6 children and there will be two instructors per session to ensure both safety and a high level of attention. We do ask that if your child is participating in one of these sessions that they are dressed properly for being on the water and the weather conditions. We also recommend that you have a dry change of clothes readily available as kids tend to find ways to get wet when they are having fun. Sessions will be held on the boat demonstration beach with kayaks, paddles and life jackets provided. These sessions are sponsored by Swift Canoe and Kayak, Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company and the American Canoe Association.

Canoe and Kayak Camping

Canoes and kayaks are great for getting away from it all and we have world class paddle camping areas within 4 hours of Western New York. Planning, preparing and packing for a camping trip can be a daunting task but our clinics help you with outlines, tips, demonstrations and problem solving for questions about what to take, how to plan and prepare meals, how to paddle camp with kids, how to prepare for portage. Camping opens up a whole new array of places you can visit and explore. There are many opinions about what is best and what works and while we do not contend to know all the answers we will provide you with a reliable approach to get started. This is a one day seminar that can be split over two days to include a camping overnight.

Destination Paddling Clinics

There are so many wonderful places to paddle, explore and camp. We can conduct most of these canoe and kayak clinics in a place that you want to visit. We teach throughout the Adirondacks, Western and Central New York and in Pennsylvania.

Examples of some of our favorite sites are:

Local (WNY)

  • Presque Isle (Erie, PA)
  • West River (Canandaigua, NY)
  • Black Creek (Rochester, NY)
  • Canadice Lake (near Rochester)
  • Niagara River (at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island)


  • Brown Tract Pond (near Raquette Lake)
  • Saranac River (at the town of Saranac Lake)
  • Heart Lake (at the Adirondack Loj in Lake Placid)


Our primary focus is the delivery of instructor certification and freestyle canoeing clinics.  We are available on a limited basis for group sessions, or private lessons.

We have access to several ACA/WEKANU certified instructors who may also be available for lessons.  Please see the INSTRUCTOR page for the list of individuals.

Additional fees for event insurance or ACA membership is required.

Our fees are based on a rate of $75 per hour per instructor, or $450-$900 per day.

      • Private lesson 2 hour minimum $150.
      • Group Session 2-6 hours – see rate chart below


Group Size2 hr3 hr4 hr5 hr6 hr

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