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FWC, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Florida State Parks partnering with American Canoe Association for ‘Kayaking 101’ instruction to kick off National Safe Boating Week

kayakers gathered around instructor
Media contact: Ashlee Sklute, Release Date: 05-14-2024   All Articles Tags:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Florida State Parks are joining the Florida chapter of the American Canoe Association to offer low-cost kayaking instruction at state parks on Saturday, May 18. The event is in celebration of National Safe Boating Week, which begins the same day. 

Now in its third year, this annual event has produced significant results. In 2023, nationally certified ACA instructor volunteers trained 279 students across North Carolina and Tennessee in 24 simultaneous Kayaking 101 classes. In April 2024, the National Safe Boating Council recognized this effort with the 2024 IBWSS Communications Community Impact Award.

As a result of the success realized in Tennessee and North Carolina in 2023, seven states are participating in this event in 2024 with 43 simultaneous Kayaking 101 classes planned on May 18 in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Missouri and Florida.

“Our instructor volunteers are so excited to share their love of the sport with newcomers and experienced paddlers alike,” 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.” 

Participating locations include:

  • Sebastian Inlet State Park
  • Crystal River Preserve State Park
  • Faver-Dykes State Park

“There’s no better time to take a boating safety course than during National Safe Boating Week. Education is a key component to a safe day on the water, whether in a paddlecraft or motorized vessel,” said Maj. Bill Holcomb, FWC’s Boating and Waterways section leader. “Nothing can ruin an enjoyable and memorable experience on the water faster than a boating accident.”

Classes are $15 per person including a free kayak rental for anyone who signs up for one at registration. This training often retails for $75-$150. All instructors are Florida volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training and are supported by experienced safety teams. 

Each park’s event will be limited to 15 people. A limited number of kayaks, paddles and life jackets will be available. These classes are made available by certified instructor volunteers, boating safety educated boaters and equipment donations from many organizations coming together to help their fellow paddlers across Florida. These organizations include: Kaku Kayaks, Tampa Bay Kayak Anglers, Florida Paddling Trails Association, Kayak Adventure Group out of Tampa Bay and St. Augustine Paddle Sports.

Interested parties can register for the ACA Kayaking 101 course by visiting and clicking “Events” and “Learn More.” In-person spaces are limited. A free paddlesports online class can be found at by clicking “Education” and “Resource Library;” however, in-person training with a certified instructor is strongly encouraged.

The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddlesports education.