Kayaking, like any sport, has its own unique culture and personality but there are many facets within the sport that can be enjoyed by anyone. One of the challenges for Canadians wanting to start paddling is the ease in which skills can be developed without the proper framework of knowledge and technique to keep an individual safe. You wouldn't start downhill skiing by jumping off a steep mountainside onto a Double Black Diamond ski run. And you probably shouldn't start kayaking by launching into a Grade III rapid with a bunch of buddies.
There is a systematic progression of paddling skills, knowledge and ability that all paddlers go through. The CanoeKayak Canada Passport for Paddlesports provides an excellent skills checklist for everyone to understand where they are in their personal sport development process.
This short video shows the FUNdamental skills and what we cover in our Kayak Intro programs. https://vimeo.com/124963156
It is HIGHLY recommended that everyone take a series of formal lessons from a Certified CanoeKayak Canada Instructor at their local AWA club or a professional kayak school. This is the best way to learn the proper technique for kayaking and will create a positive and enjoyable experience that will encourage you to enjoy paddling for years to come. Starting in a local pool, progessing to the lake and then to an easy river provides the right progression and transition from a controlled environment to the chaotic world of whitewater kayaking.
The CanoeKayak Canada Whitewater Long Term Paddler Development Model provides an understanding of the different levels of paddling skills that each individual will progress through as they develop in the sport. See the attached link for more information. CanoeKayak Canada / Whitewater - Long Term Paddler Development Model (link to pdf document)
Kayaking offers a unique sporting activity. Paddlers get to be close to nature and enjoy the water while leaving no trace. Paddlers are also involved in an individual sport but have to be involved in a social group for safety and logistical reasons.
Once you have developed the Fundamentals in the Pool and Lake and Developmentals in the river you will have options to decide what disciplines of the sport you like the best. Are you interested in:
Endurance Downriver (Wildwater)
Creek Racing click for more information.
Tricks & Hotdogging Freestyle Click for more information.
Technique & Precision Slalom Click for more information.
Adventure & Adrenaline River Running Click for more information.
Creeking Click for more information.
Relaxation & Enjoyment Lake Paddling & River Running Click for more information.
Competitive Teams Canoe Polo Click here for more information
The clubs are the foundation for our association. The best way to get involved in whitewater kayaking is to join a local kayak club or to take a course. If you go to our webpage http://www.albertawhitewater.ca/find-club you will see a list of clubs in the province. The clubs would welcome you to join their programs and often have "learn to kayak" courses and equipment at very reasonable prices.
There are also a number of companies that offer kayak lessons. Go to our website for information on the companies that offer lessons http://www.albertawhitewater.ca/useful-links
The other option is to come to one of the kayaking festivals that are offered around Alberta this summer. In a weekend you can go from zero to hero and meet a lot of great people to paddle with. Check out the Festival schedule on our website http://www.albertawhitewater.ca/calendar/month . Click on the Festival date to see information about the Festival and what they are offering.