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Canoeing and Kayaking (FBCEC)

TopicLaboratory and Hands-on Activities - Physical Activity
Participants will learn safety techniques as well as basic paddling for canoes and kayaks and will practice on a short float down Crooked Creek. Note: At least one experienced adult should accompany every four or five participants down the creek. Shuttle vehicles and drivers to pull trailers are required as well as a transport crew who will be loading and unloading vessels.
Grade Level7 - 12
Recommended SettingCrooked Creek
LocationFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration1 - 1.5 hours
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 16
Special Conditions
Sufficient adult supervision and shuttle resources.  Water conditions and weather permitting.
  • Identify the supplies and equipment needed for a paddling expedition.
  • Identify potential hazards on a paddling trip.
  • Practice several basic canoe strokes.
  • Experience a potentially life-long outdoor pastime.
Key Terms*






Life jackets

Mesh trash bags



Canoeing and kayaking are popular pastimes for many naturalists who can enjoy scenic streams and waterways and observe wildlife in their natural surroundings. Likewise, adventure paddlers and other sportsmen enjoy canoe or kayak outings. Arkansans are fortunate to have so many paddling destinations.


  1. Begin by referring to the benefits of paddling, and then recite the planning steps for a float trip (proper equipment and supplies, preparing a float plan, outfitting the canoe, etc.).
  2. Demonstrate how to hold the paddle and the forward, back, pry and draw strokes. Describe the movement accomplished by each.
  3. Indicate the bow and the stern of the vessel and mention that the bow leads downstream. Explain that the person at the stern primarily steers and the partner in front supplies much of the power and serves as the lookout. Paddlers should pair up with someone of similar weight. If the difference is considerable, the heavier person should sit at the stern.
  4. Describe the positive attributes of Crooked Creek as well as its hazards (rapids, overhanging limbs, obstacles in water, snakes, etc.). Explain how to respond to these hazards.
  5. After unloading the vessels, show how to portage them to the water, making sure everyone is outfitted with a paddle and a properly fitted life jacket. Everyone must wear a correctly secured life jacket at all times.
  6. There should always be at least one experienced adult at the rear of the group. Another adult should assume the lead position and participants instructed not to pass that person’s vessel. Other adults should space themselves throughout the group. Paddlers should also be told to take their canoe to the bank if someone in the group capsizes. When the delayed vessel is ready to resume, other paddlers may continue.
  7. Once the group has been launched, the trailers can be shuttled to the parking lot across Kelly’s Slab where the driver awaits. The trailer then can be moved to the slab and loaded.


  • List the supplies and equipment needed for a paddling expedition.
  • Describe the potential hazards of a paddling expedition and ways to avoid them.
  • Demonstrate how to hold a paddle for forward, back, pry and draw strokes.

Bow (boat) – the forward part of a boat or ship


Portage – carrying boats or goods overland from one body of water to another


Stern – the rear of a boat