Twelve Tennessee State Parks are joining the Tennessee chapter of the American Canoe Association to offer low-cost kayaking instruction on May 21, as part of National Safe Boating Week on May 21-27.
The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddle sports education. The classes are being offered at a discount, costing $15 per person, with the revenue going to Tennessee State Parks. All instructors are Tennessee volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training. A limited number of kayaks, paddles, and life jackets are available at no additional charge at most of the parks if participants reserve the equipment during registration. Each participating park is offering instruction in either introductory flatwater kayaking or introductory river kayaking. Participants choose which curriculum they want and select one of the parks offering that class.
The classes begin at 9 a.m. on May 21. Registration is open at this link. In-person spaces are limited, so an alternative, free online class is available. However, in-person training with a certified instructor is strongly encouraged.
Participating Tennessee State Parks include:
- Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
- Chickasaw State Park
- Harpeth River State Park
- Long Hunter State Park
- Fall Creek Falls State Park
- Seven Islands State Birding Park
- Big Ridge State Park
- Harrison Bay State Park
- Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park
- Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park
- Cove Lake State Park
- Warriors’ Path State Park
“We are fortunate to have Tennesseans who are certified ACA paddle sports instructors volunteering to partner with our park rangers to conduct the training as part of National Safe Boating Week,” said Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “This is an opportunity to learn good paddling practices so Tennesseans can safely enjoy our waterways.”
“Because Tennessee has such amazing destination waterways that are popular with paddlers from across the region, we are also in the unfortunate position of leading the nation in 2020 and 2021 in river-related paddling fatalities,” said Andrea White, state director for ACA. “Our ACA instructors, paddling clubs and schools jumped at the chance to help our neighbors as part of National Safe Boating Week.”
ACA Tennessee estimates there are approximately one million people regularly paddling Tennessee waterways who have not had any formal training. ACA instructors look forward to helping the participants in the Kayaking 101 classes to better understand hazards, learn some tips to achieve more boat control, and generally help them to have more fun out on the water.
Paddling leaders from the following organizations are making the event possible: Bluff City Canoe Club in Memphis, West Tennessee Canoe and Kayak Club in Jackson, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association in Nashville, Tennessee Valley Canoe Club in Chattanooga, Chota Canoe Club in Knoxville, East Tennessee Whitewater Club in Oak Ridge, Tennessee RiverLine in Knoxville, Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts in Johnson City, Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute in Erwin, as well as independent ACA instructors statewide.
In a related event, sponsored by Tennessee State Parks, TWRA, and ACA Tennessee, ACA instructors will help launch the new national ACA paddlesports angler curriculum in a class designed specifically for Kayak Anglers. The event is led by Robin Pope, president of the ACA Board of Directors, and Geoff Luckett, founder of Tennessee Kayak Anglers. “Hooked on Safety: Kayak and Safety Skills for Kayak Anglers” on May 27-29 will be the inaugural class nationally for this ACA program. The class will be held at TWRA’s Buffalo Ridge Refuge facility in Waverly, TN. A limited number of kayaks are available for participants, if needed. Registration is open for this event at this link.