Paddle Canada Level 1 Classes

Paddle Canada Level 1 courses: what to expect, kayaking skills you will learn, and everything you need to know!

Kayak training courses are a great way to help make the kayaking learning curve easier. If you have some experience with kayaks, the Paddle Canada Level 1 course is a great next step to improve your paddling skills and start to take on paddles that are a little more interesting. 

How do Paddle Canada Level 1 Courses work?

Paddle Canada Level 1 Courses are broken up into three categories; 

  • Re-entry Skills 
  • Paddling Skills
  • Knowledge


The Level 1 paddling course is typically about 16 hours of instruction, which includes both on water and classroom components. Instructors can choose how to structure the Paddle Canada Level 1 programs so that the itinerary work for the location, weather and group abilities. This allows instructors to format the kayak training course so that the students get the maximum benefit and a superior learning environment. Many programs run on weekends, however, there is so much flexibility to run courses over multiple days and in various different formats. 

Paddle Canada Level 1 differs from a basic kayak training course by going more in-depth in the knowledge component and adding so self re-entry techniques to paddlers' skill base. Prerequisites for a level 1 Skills course include, a Paddle Canada Basic Certification or equivalent skills and knowledge. 

(click here for the Paddle Canada Basic Skills outline


In addition to the basic paddling skills, participants need to have 5 paddle excursions and be able to perform a controlled wet exit and an assisted re-entry.

If you have no basic skills certification, kayak Instructors can analyze participants' skills and abilities to make a decision on whether or not a participant has the required paddling skills and experience to take the Paddle Canada Level 1 course.

Paddle Canada Level 1 re-entry BestCoast



Paddle Canada Level 1: The Re-Entry

The re-entry skill taught in the course includes un-assisted re-entries and assisted re-entries. This component of this kayak training course incorporates the controlled wet exit; instructors are coaching students to maintain control of their equipment and exit the kayak in a safe way. 

Wet exits are taught at BestCoast Outfitters in a progression that makes the participant feel safe and have the support of the instructor. The instructors start by standing with the participant and ensuring the participant can complete the exit with no struggles and lots of control. Our instructors know this part of the kayak training course can be stressful for participants and our training style can help even the most anxious participants have success with this skill. This is a very important part of the course as it leads to the re-entry of the kayak. Often participants will have the opportunity to try different types of un-assisted re-entries including the scramble or cowboy and a paddle float re-entry. The goal of the BestCoast Outfitters kayaking instructions for the Paddle Canada Level 1 program is to have the participants leave the course with multiple options to practice and at least one un-assisted re-entry that is reliable and performed with confidence. There are many assisted re-entries that can be taught in a Paddle Canada level 1 skill course. BCO instructors will offer options that will be the best fit for the participants. 

The assisted re-entries instruction may include but will not be limited to a Scoop, Heel Hook, Parallel Park and Pump, and T-re-entry. With most groups, re-entries make up about a quarter or more of the kayak training course time. Our instructors at BCO choose the schedule taking into account body temperature and energy levels as the re-entries take a lot of energy and often have people using muscles that they don't usually use. Often instructors choose times to do this portion of the kayaking lessons where participants have time to warm up, change their clothes if needed and re-energize their bodies before going back on the water. It is also one of the most rewarding parts of the paddling course as the re-entries can be the most challenging part, and as participants get the skills down, there is a real sense of accomplishment which leads to more confidence on the water. Knowing you can wet exit and get back into your kayak on your own is a powerful place to be mentally. It allows you to understand that when you come out of the kayak everything will be okay.

Paddle Canada courses 



Paddle Canada Level 1: Paddling Skills

The paddling portion of the Paddle Canada Level 1 program covers the strokes necessary for safety and other kayak instructions to take a day trip along a coastline and return with some efficiency. Strokes skills include launching and landing, forward stroke, stopping, draw stroke, sweep stroke, stern rudder, edge control, reverse strokes and bracing. In BestCoastOutfitter’s kayak training courses instructors incorporate a variety of strategies to safely launch and land in a variety of places. After the kayak lessons, participants will be able to launch successfully in a smooth way. New paddlers often think “it is so easy to paddle forward, why would we spend time on forward paddling on the kayak training course?”. Well, the answer is that the forward stroke is the one we use the most and it has the most potential to cause repetitive motion injuries. Our instructors will help you develop a forward stroke that will help you maintain speed with ease and avoid repetitive motion injuries in the Paddle Canada Level 1 program. To new paddlers, it is always fascinating that sea kayakers spend a huge amount of time working on the forward stroke. 

Stopping without turning your kayak can be challenging and in the level 1 skills course we work toward stooping your kayak without going off course. Our experienced instructors have a few tricks that can help you be able to stop quickly and in control without feeling like you may capsize. Paddle Canada Level 1 students will leave the course with the ability to move their kayaking sideways using a draw stroke. In this kayak training course, we will demonstrate and practice a variety of ways to use draw strokes to move your kayak sideways, such as hand skills. It allows you to maneuver the kayak where you want it to go without having to paddle in circles. Course correction maneuvers and pivoting the kayak will also be taught in the Paddle Canada Level 1 program by using sweep strokes. Sweep strokes can also be used as turning strokes and are a must-have skill for paddlers in coastal waters. Efficient sweep strokes can make manipulating your kayak graceful and with a bit of practice sweep strokes get incorporated with little physical effort. Making a quick turn sometimes can be achieved using a stern rudder. As paddlers get exposed to seas and wind that increase a paddler's forward momentum effective stern rudder becomes more and more important. 

BestCoastOutfitter’s kayak training courses will teach participants the foundational skills to have as a tern rudder that will increase their agility on the water. In the Paddle Canada Level one course, paddlers are introduced to reverse strokes which can sometimes feel a little unnerving; let our instructor help you become more comfortable playing around with paddling backward and using reverse strokes to get your kayak where you want it to go. The low brace is also introduced in the Paddle Canada level 1 skills course. Bracing strokes are used to keep our kayak upright and our heads above water. In this kayak training course, participants are introduced to bracing and edge control through a progression that allows them to see what their kayak can do. Combining edges with strokes will give paddlers a huge advantage and BCO kayak instructions are designed to get participants gliding through turns with ease using the shape of the kayak to assist them. Participants will leave the paddling course with the stroke understanding the skills necessary to manipulate the kayak forward, backwards, sideways and back and forth.


 Paddle Canada Skills learning


Paddle Canada Level 1: Knowledge

The knowledge section of the Paddle Canada level 1 course will be covered ongoing throughout the program. Some material will be presented in a more formal type of outdoor classroom (sometimes we use indoor space) and some of the knowledge will be presented hands-on, on the shoreline and on the water. This kayak training course usually starts with an explanation of the equipment that is required and how to take care of it. This will include what to wear, and how to wear it, as well as a discussion of protecting ourselves and the group from cold and sun damage. Our kayak training instructors will cover everything you need to know about what to wear in the coastal environment. 

The foundation of planning a kayak journey will be presented through presentations and group discussions about navigation and communication. There will also be a risk management session included in our Paddle Canada Level 1 course that will assist in deciding appropriate conditions and venues to paddle in. As we consider venues we start to asses the environmental impact and how we as paddlers can ensure that we minimize our impacts on the environment, paddlers are introduced to the concept of leaving no trace

As we cover the knowledge potion we will put the theory to use and complete a half-day journey in the Paddle Canada Level 1 on the water.

To round out the kayaking lesson and provide support for paddlers off the water, instructors will review kayak transportation and tire down and introduce paddlers to community resources and some next steps for paddlers to get on the water in the local area.

The Paddle Canada Level 1 skills course is a great introduction to coastal paddling and provides the foundation for paddlers to take on more. Learning how to re-enter your kayak and manipulating your kayak can be fun and exciting, the paddling courses are always a confidence booster and participants leave with skills they can apply directly from that point on. 

If you are interested in pursuing kayaking the Paddle Canada level 1 skills course is worthwhile and BestCoast Outfitters guarantees you will leave with an improvement of skills and an increase in your paddling knowledge foundation.

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