Missouri State Parks and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary are joining the Missouri chapter of the American Canoe Association to offer low-cost kayaking instruction at two state parks Saturday, May 18. The event celebrates National Safe Boating Week, which begins the same day.

Group of people in kayaks in the water sitting in a circle.

In 2023, this event trained 279 students across North Carolina and Tennessee in 24 simultaneous Kayaking 101 classes led by national certified ACA instructor volunteers. This event began in Tennessee in 2022 and by April 2024, the National Safe Boating Council recognized the effort with the 2024 IBWSS Communications Community Impact Award.

As a result of the program’s success in 2023, 45 simultaneous classes are planned for May 18, 2024, in Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas 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 Missouri state parks for this event include Finger Lakes and Cuivre River state parks. Classes cost $15 per person, which includes a free kayak rental for anyone who signs up. All instructors are Missouri volunteers who are nationally certified to give paddling and rescue training, and are supported by experienced safety teams. Finger Lakes State Park is located at 1505 E. Peabody Road in Columbia, while Cuivre River State Park can be found at 678 State Route 147 in Troy.

Each park’s event is 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, safety boaters and equipment donations from many organizations coming together to help their fellow paddlers across the state.

Interested parties can register at Learn2 Programs | Missouri State Parks (mostateparks.com). In-person spaces are limited. A free online class is also available; however, in-person training with a certified instructor is strongly encouraged. The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddlesports education.

For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.