"The ABC's of Canoeing"

In two weeks I am supposed to present a seminar on “The ABC’s of Canoeing.” It will be one small part of a big weekend “outdoor expo” with a bunch of other displays. I’ll have about an hour.

I’m trying to pare down the information overload and work up something that would be appropriate.

What 3 things about canoes should I discuss?

I’m fishing for thought-starters here.


The first thing that comes to mind for m
When learning to canoe I struggled with being patienet and not getting frustrated…so of course that is what comes to mind as priority’s…kim

a stab at a short syllabus
After the PFD instruction:

  1. Getting in and staying in: center your gravity

  2. Going Straight: opposite sides and stern dominance

  3. Maneuvering: getting beyond which side you’re paddling on

    Have Fun!

A B C …
(A) Accoutrements

I would spent about 25 minutes discussing some of the equipment used with canoes. Examples: Pfds, paddles, throw bags, kneeling pads, helmets, seatbacks, waterproof bags, river shoes, splash pants/jacket, paddling gloves, etc

Would be highly beneficial to have the gear to display. If possible, let the participants get “hands on” the gear.

(B) Boats

I would spent about 25 minutes discussing the varied types of canoe; recreational, whitewater, tripping, racing, etc. I would also discuss the different layups, and the reasoning behind different layup, and their prices. Would be highly beneficial to have 2 or 3 canoes in different layups to display.

© Classes

I would conclude with a brief discussion of where new paddlers might find classes available;(organizations i.e. ACA/ paddling clubs/ outfitters/demos) and how they might get involved in a class. A handout with contact information would be beneficial.

Allow a few minutes for questions.

Good luck,


range of opportunities
Based on many threads here, I’d try to send the message that there is not one canoe that can do everything - but that there’s a wide range of opportunities in canoeing: 10’ playboat vs. 18’ speed machine, mellow to extreme.

Generally, I like the proposed Accesories, Boats, Classes intro - I don’t think you could convey much about how to paddle.

Take that outline and lean it towards the regional opportunities and audiences’ interests.

Good luck, P.

Brush over all of the above
and concentrate on how much fun canoing is and how healthful it is. You can also mention how popular canoeists are with kayakers, and don’t forget to mention that canoers are better looking, stronger and smarter then everybody!

Now You’re Talkin’!
I wasn’t really looking forward to the same old “wear your PFD” speech. You have given me a whole new slant on the subject! Best of all…it’s true!

Much more to it than ABCs,
so make a distinction about the differences between flat water canoeing and white water river canoeing. Some ABCs will do for flat water, but white water requires knowledge of the whole alphabet.

Always wear safety gear and think safety.

Be aware of what is going on from the global perspective - both paddlers motions, water conditions, wind, other boats…

Cherish the experience and its aesthetic beauty.

I’ve talked to several people who didn’t know that you could paddle a canoe solo, or that solo canoes existed. I had never seen one until I started kayaking.

When the average person thinks about canoes, they think of them as “family trucksters”. Kayaks are sporty and exciting and high-performance, canoes are clunky bargelike things that are hard to paddle. That’s the image you want to correct.


The video clipsat the bottom of the page would be jaw-droppers for most folks.

Angstroms right
of course. For many reasons people think canoe = tandem, Kayak = solo. Which is patently untrue. Borrow a nice solo from Hemlock canoes or talk to the plaidpaddler andborrow some of his. BTW plaidpaddler has been putting on a canoeing demo for years, you might want to contact him, since his is geared toward kids and adults…


Thank You
Everyone’s ideas have been most helpful…even those who didn’t post. (You know who you are!)

I guess I left out two pieces of information:

  1. The presentation will be indoors and should run about one hour.
  2. I will have access to a pool, 16’ x 20’, to float the boat, but not much else.

    FYI- here’s the event website.


    You’ll see is covers a lot of outdoor activites, and the canoe stuff is really low on the list of cool & groovy things. Oh well, if we can get just one person to turn away from the jet-skis and try canoeing it will be a massive success.

    Thanks again for the thought-starters.

roll one
Sounds like there’s enough room in that little pool to have somebody rolling a bagged-out whitewater canoe!! That would be a crowd-pleaser.


I could never understand this desire to turn a perfectly good boat upside down. :slight_smile:

A few rules
Water on the outside

Don’t fall asleep in the middle of a stream

Always know how deep it is BEFORE stepping out of the boat

Rocks are bad

down trees are worse

Don’t fight the river, you will lose

Anyday on the water beats any day at work…

Number one rule–If you’re not having fun you are doing it wrong.

People first
boats second, accessories third. If people are comfortable they will actually want to take a class. Wowing them with boat information and boat gear is secondary.

Getting in, getting out, demo. Use the pool to fall out and come up smiling! Demonstrate body mechanics and the use of a paddle. Have brooms to hand out to some volunteers to do dry land paddling.

People dont like canoes because they think it is too hard. Use stuff and examples they can relate to in every day life (draw= sweep the dirt under the rug, pry= nudge the dog out the door). Obviously an hour is not going to cover all instruction and your intent is informative not instructional but if you involve your audience with you they will come for more.

Then go on to hull and paddle shapes.

The more interactive you are the less your audience will sleep.

Give out printed materials at the end. People always want take home information. Find and list instructional opportunities in your area.