Qajaq Training Camp 2022 - Michigan Training Camp

Well, after a two year hiatus Training Camp was back and full. For those who may not know, Qajaq Training Camp is one of several events sponsored by Qajaq USA and is focused on traditional paddling as developed by the Arctic peoples, especially the Inuit of Greenland. If you are interested, bookmark this:

I know that I had a great time and it seemed that everyone else did as well. I did a quick montage of a few photos and videos of the Saturday night entertainment here: 2022 Training Camp - YouTube

Music is the Qajaq Song performed by Dubside.


It was a really great time, especially with so many newcomers (25 first-timers, I think) and younger folks. The on-shore seminars (building target harpoons, how to customize qajaq fit, traditional Greenland hunter outfitting, etc.) and the yoga and stretching guided sessions were a nice compliment to the on-water coaching (rolling, bracing, strokes, self and assisted rescues.)

And, of course, the chance to connect with a wide variety of interesting new people and to enjoy the sunsets on the Lake Michigan beach at the end of the day (this evening shown below included a soulful bagpipe solo by Chrissy):


What are the instructional sessions like? Is there a good opportunity to learn strokes and bracing with a GP? How focused on rolling is it?

Instruction is one on one for the most part and focuses on whatever skills you want or need to work on. There are blocks of time set up for specific areas of work for group instruction but lots of flex time plus at the start of each day at group breakfast the director takes a survey of how many people want to work on specific skill areas or participate in other activities, like the harpoon building workshop I signed up for or group trips through the Herring Lake outlet to Lake Michigan for open water and possible surf training. The team even urges students to try to get training from as many different coaches as possible since every one has particular talents and teaching style.

The opportunity to learn strokes and bracing with a GP are more than good, they are outstanding. My coach in 2017 had me in a confident unassisted full floating balance brace in the water within minutes. It helped that there had been dry land exercises in the main building using several SOFs to practice body and head positions for balance bracing and forward and back finish rolls. Mastering this was a key step in being able to complete the back finish roll without blowing it at the end.

QTC is also an excellent opportunity to try out multiple kayaks. QajaqUSA provides their assorted SOFs, GPs and tuiliks for class use and many participants, coaches and students, are generous in allowing others to try out their personal kayaks.

Great people too, all friendly and generous with their knowledge. Camp is well organized and safe while still managing to be loosely structured, laid back and even democratic.

I mean, how better to perfect a Greenland roll than to have a private session with Dubside himself standing chest deep in clear warm freshwater beside you and your kayak?
Dubside coaching


A few photos (finally downloaded from my camera.)


It sounds amazing, thanks.

Great seeing you again, especially back at camp! Very nice pics and vid’s!

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Willow - great pics! Thanks for sharing and also a big thank you for playing parking tetris coordinator. Everyone’s assistance is greatly appreciated and helped make camp a great experience.

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Rival - also a big thank you for the parking lot tetris coordinator too! See you on the water soon!

Doggy - Rival and Willow pretty much summed up camp. We try to have some group classes (like the progression of layback roll) that start on land and then flow over to the water. There’s always 1:1 rolling going on with several mentor always in the water. Some mentors focus on certain rolls, like the standard Greenland layback roll, while other mentors like to focus on the more advanced rolls.

We had some great on-water classes like sculling, bracing, basic strokes, advanced strokes, and group paddle. Land based classes consisted of ropes, progression of forward finish rolls, progression of layback rolls, harpoon building and throwing. There was also a harpoon throwing contest one day on water.

Saturday consisted of social hour before dinner followed by a raffle, silent auction and live auction after dinner. Bon fire on the beach followed.

There is also plenty of opportunity for folks to simply relax, paddle on their own and everything in between. Whatever you’d like to focus on, there’s a mentor or three that will help you with it.

In addition to the fleet kayaks and gear provided by Qajaq USA for all to use, most folks are very open to let others try their kayaks, paddles, etc.

Thanks again to all of the great mentors, participants and volunteers that made this year’s camp another great one! Can’t wait for next year! Save the date – August 17-20, 2023


I’m kind of bummed at the moment since I can’t find the norsaq I carved for my harpoon in the workshop. I remember distinctly packing it (or intending to do so) in some place in my gear where it would be flat and cushioned but have forgotten where or even if. I have unpacked everything I dragged back from camp as of this morning and just went through the big yellow camper with a fine toothed comb and have no clue what “good place” I put it in – or if I packed it at all.

Harpoon kind of useless without it and making another is likley not an option since you align the haft pegs during construction. Don’t seem to be missing any other kit so I don’t think I failed to grab any of my 8 or 9 bags. Was hoping I had stashed it in one of the Avatar’s hatches but just drove over to the garage and checked and it isn’t there either.

Not giving up. I once “lost” my Pentax underwater camera for nearly two years before it suddenly turned up in an obscure side pocket of a duffel bag I had not used since the trip where it went missing. Had already replaced it but the new one was not as nice a model so I was glad it resurrected (it took those shots at camp this year).

Norsaq (unfinished pine with finger notches) has my first name penciled on it so maybe if it went astray I should check with Sipke to see if I got distracted and neglected to pack it at the dock staircase where I was organizing my baggage. Maybe somebody found it and turned it over to him.

Found a couple more camp shots.

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Willow - I’ll check and see if anyone found one and will let you know. More good pics! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks – I did spend the rest of last week with my cousin in Buchanan, MI (just before the Indiana border) so I will check with her if it turned up. I did partake of Michigan’s recreational herbal products during the visit (a novelty for a PA resident like me) so maybe i lost track of the norsaq in a purple (CBD gummie) haze.

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The Norsaq can be made after. Just line everything up. The measurements are already there it just take a little … You can do it. I have made several after the fact. A harpoon can also be made separate, they just have to be fitted to each other. And even pins can be moved after , to get them to fly and balance the way you want…to tune them.

FOUND IT! The errant norsaq is reunited with its harpoon! I suddenly remembered that the “good safe place” I stashed it was in that pink camo padded rifle case that I use for the two piece Gearlab GP. And there it was.



Where is the picture of your harpoon? {what did you make the foreshaft from?}

We made blunt target harpoons by trimming and tapering (with block planes and drawknives) wooden 7’ closet poles that Sipke DeBoer brought for us, along with rough blanks to shape the norsaqs. We just stepped down the foreshaft – no separable dart.

Here’s a shot of mine, still unfinished pine. I have to final sand and seal both pieces. And me launching it (3rd from left). I scored third in the target “hunt” from the boat later that day, but using a borrowed harpoon that turned out to be a leftie norsaq (I’m a rightie). Mine had swollen with being raw and wet from immersion during repeated practice and the pins became too tight.

Even with that handicap of the leftie norsaq (and forgetting to drop the skeg on my kayak during the approach so I almost ran over the target) I managed to hit the edge of the second ring for 30 points. I like to think if I had had my 18’ West Greenland SOF under me (which is out of commission until i get it reskinned this winter) I would have done better. :smirk:

Have you tried it in you chosen harpooning Qajaq to see if it is too long for you and your sitting/harpooning height yet? If you are going for competition weight , it will give you a target to carve to, to get the feel of what works for competition …lighter is actually nicer to use for just practice.

This one actually worked quite well for me – I like the heft – and the loaner I used was the same length and construction. Mike Bielski had coached me in 2017 at QTC when I was introduced to the harpoon and I caught on pretty quickly. I can reliably aim and arc it into a nice downward drop about one of of 3 launches at this point. I know what to do (i think having learned to use an atlatl at archaeology field camps helped in grasping the launching assist concept), just need to practice more so I can be consistent.

I won’t be able to use the SOF until I patch it up or reskin it. After 13 years of use there are thinned spots and too much Aquaseal on the tired stitches. Plus the erect “tail” on the stern got hit and broke off inside last year so it needs a skeletal patch (or Viagra). i

just acquired an 18’ x 22" Greenland style vintage composite Northwest Kayak “Discover” that that has similar lines to the SOF and may take the harpoon out with it on the first test paddle this coming weekend and see how that works. But it has a lot of rocker, like the composite Avatar I was in for the target shoot, so it’s going to respond to my shifting weight to the throwing arm by wandering off course too, unless I drop the rudder.

The SOF (based on Harvey Golden’s 1935 Sisimuit survey) will track like an arrow for 30 yards after i park the paddle. Somebody designed that sucker for stealth gliding up to an ice floe while aiming a rifle with both hands.

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Good to hear …BTW Loved the pictures. Did anyone fire up the wood fired hot tub?