Solo Canoe Symposiums????

I have seen some information on solo canoe symposiums, freestyle symposiums, etc.

Can anyone provide some info / feedback / recommendations on some? I am trying to make plans for what trips to make this summer. I would like to attend an event like this if it will be a valuable learning experience, but not if it is just a social gathering/boat demo type event.

Kayaking has some awesome BCU symposiums. What might be an equivalent for canoeing?



canoeists don’t like a lot of structure
Heck, they don’t even like decks on their boats. Most of the canoe Rendezvous I have attended are more along the lines of social events than didactic programs, but that’s not to say you can’t learn a great deal from hanging around with experienced boaters.

At Raystown a couple of years ago, Bill Swift, Dave Curtis, David Yost, Charlie Wilson, Harold Deal were all present and happy to answer questions and offer advice and there were many demo boats available.

I assume you know about the upcoming Southwest PA solo canoe Rendezvous?

And you can check out the events listed in this newsletter:

Freestyle symposiums

– Last Updated: May-24-09 8:56 AM EST –

I was a newbie at the Midwest Freestyle Symposium (September in NE Ohio) last year. They offer structured classes in either solo or tandem (ACA Level 3 Freestyle, which actually is a sequence of 5 classes. You take one in the sequence). I had a great time and learned a lot. The teachers are some of the best paddlers around, classes are small, you'll have three 3-hour sessions with 3 different instructors, 2 on Saturday, one on Sunday morning. I'll be going back this year.

I met a few other paddlers who were new to freestyle and who had also attended the Adirondack symposium at Star Lake, NY, in July. They preferred that one -- it's spread out over a couple more days. The formal ACA freestyle classes are in the mornings, with other structured seminars/classes in the afternoons. I'd love to go, but I have other commitments that week.

Yes, there is a rather large social component to these symposiums. As an "outsider", the US freestyle community seems to me like a rather small group that have known each other for a long time. However, they are very friendly and open. Socially inept as I am, I still had a good time.

Check out for info about these two symposiums.

Don’t get me wrong…
I did not mean to come across as not enjoying the social aspect of such events. on the contrary I do enjoy that aspect; however, I was indicating that I really am primarily interested in hands on learning rather than just “smokin’ and jokin’” although that is fun too!


Freestyle Syposiums
I went to the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium last summer and hope to go again this year.

They have some very good classes with some skilled instructors.

They are quite focused on Freestyle and don’t get into other aspects of paddling much.


FreeStyle Instruction

– Last Updated: May-26-09 4:12 PM EST –

The first FreeStyle Symposia of the year is the Adirondack FSS, located in Star Lake NY 19-23 July. Food is served by the camp staff without alternatives due to location Contact Tom MacKenzie at

The Second is the Midwest FSS in Penninsula OH, 11-13 September. Food is catered by a skilled local cook, but alternatives are available. Contact Bob and Elaine Mravetz at

The first event is a little more slowly paced but requires a week off work. The second is more intense due to the weekend format.

With some luck, LaLou, the great Winter FreeStyle Symposium located in Mandeville LA and so able organized by John Steib will be re started next year.

LaLou has cuisine alternatives because the Abiti Brewing Company, with tasting room/restaurant is seven miles down the road, and John and his wife Sue are outstanding Cajun chefs. On the other hand, it has alligators.

All FreeStyle Symposia focus on technical flatwater paddling; blade, body, boat. Students always leave paddling better than when they arrived. A good time is always had by all.

Club Instruction
Just another thought.

In New England there are several branches of the Appilacian Mountain Club that teach whitewater canoeing.

My overall paddling skills have benefitted greatly from those.

You might look around your location and see if there are paddling clubs that offer something along those lines.


I would imagine
the alligators provide some additional incentive to stay in the boat?

There are quite a few canoe symposia

I hope La Lou can come back.

Then June 5-7 this year there is Maine Canoe Symposium.

This is a weekend event with some solo paddling. One person is bringing a trailer of solo Wenonahs to that event and the one the followin weekend…the Southwest Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous.

Then pause for a month (take a canoe trip) and there is Adirondack FreeStyle Symposium which is dedicated to “obedience classes for your boat”. And you. Its mostly but not all solos. Focus is on good technical control and efficient paddling…not to wear tutus and paddle to music. Some use what they learn to further their whitewater skills and others their tripping skills. And a few go for the music and entertainment value. Yes it is old friends week but do not be intimidated…there is plenty of room for new friends.

Then in September Elaine and Bob and Diane’s MFS where you paddle a lot paddle hard and eat the same.

Raystown is the social canoe event of October.

The SWPASCR is going to be slightly more structured this year with FreeStyle Demos and some classes. But there will be plenty of time for a gab fest and boat swopping and playing.

I’ll be sure not to bring a “freestyle boat” as I would like people to see other applications of FS techniques.

New Event
I’ll take this opportunity to announce a likely new FS symposium. We have a handshake agreement for a symposium the weekend of March 20/21 in Yulee Florida, just outside of Jacksonville.

The site is the Outdoor Education Center of Jacksonville Community College.

The format will be similar to what we had at LaLou and currently at MFS.

We will likely offer some local guided trips before or after the event for those wishing to extend their stay.

There are dorms on site and the college culinary arts program will provide food. For those looking for upscale accommodation, major motels are a mile down the road. Tenting will be available on site for those desiring such.

We are still working out details and awaiting a formal contract for the site but at this time it looks very promising. Keep your calenders open and stay tuned for further details.

Marc Ornstein

Dogpaddle Canoe Works

Custom Canoe Paddles and Cedar Strip Canoes

Marc, keep us posted on this. NM