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Tennessee State Parks, TWRA Partner With American Canoe Association for Kayak Instruction

Photo by Taylor Crooks

Tennessee State Parks and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) are joining the Tennessee chapter of the American Canoe Association (ACA) to offer low-cost kayaking instruction on Saturday, May 20, as part of National Safe Boating Week, which begins the same day.

The event builds on collaboration like the same program conducted a year ago when more than 170 people participated. That partnership resulted in a Four-Star Award for an innovative program from the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association.

“Tennesseans and visitors to our beautiful state continue to show growing enthusiasm for the great outdoors, and that includes interest in boating,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greer Tidwell. “We are proud to partner with the American Canoe Association again for this valuable instruction program.”

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“The volunteer instructors were excited to help out again this year to bring new paddlers into our sport,” said ACA Southeastern Chair Andrea White. “Just one day of training can make the difference between setting yourself up for a bad experience that ruins the sport for you versus setting yourself up for a whole lifetime of paddling fun, enjoying our amazing waterways.”

“We want all Tennesseans to be safe while enjoying the state’s beautiful waterways,” said TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon. “We are excited to be joining this great partnership to highlight outdoor recreation opportunities and paddling safety skills.”

Participating Tennessee State Parks for this year’s event are:

  • 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
  • Booker T. Washington State Park

Classes cost $15 per person, the same as last year, with the revenue going to Tennessee State Parks. All instructors are Tennessee volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training and are supported by experienced safety teams. TWRA wildlife officers will be present at various locations to emphasize and encourage paddlecraft safety on Tennessee waters.

Each park’s event will be limited to 15 people. A limited number of kayaks, paddles, and life jackets will be available. This year, the partnership is adding an Adaptive Kayaking 101 event at Booker T. Washington State Park. This event will have specialized adaptive paddling equipment available for paddlers with physical disabilities who would like to participate.

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These classes are made available by certified instructor volunteers, safety boaters and equipment donations from 21 organizations coming together to help their fellow paddlers across Tennessee. These organizations include: Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts, Blues City Kayaks; Bluff City Canoe Club; Catalyst Sports; Chota Canoe Club; East Tennessee Whitewater Club; Knoxville Kayaking Clinic; Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute; Ocoee Watersports; Outdoor Chattanooga; Sunseeker Outfitters; Sunshine’s Adventures; Tennessee Kayak Anglers; Team River Runner-Atlanta; Team River Runner-Chattanooga; Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association; Tennessee Valley Canoe Club; Tennessee RiverLine; and the West Tennessee Canoe and Kayak Club. This effort is also supported by Pyranha US, headquartered in Erwin, and the Jackson Kayak Foundation, headquartered in Rock Island.

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 and experienced safety team is strongly encouraged.

The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddle sports education.

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