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Please call 262-895-2008 or send me an e-mail if you have any questions at all about any of the following programs.  Some of the links to the schedule page are not yet working.  I should have them connected by the first week in February.

Jim SUP cropStand-up Paddleboard (SUP) Programs

Try SUP  (schedule)

Have you seen what looks like people standing on surfboards and paddling around the local lakes?  Well you’re not too far off.  While they were originally used for surfing, stand-up paddleboards (SUP) have become a popular new trend in paddlesports and a great way to exercise your core muscles!  You can sit, kneel, or stand on these boards and use them to paddle, fish, surf, or even do yoga (although not in this class)!  If you’re interested in giving it a try, this program will let you paddle in a protected environment under the supervision of a certified instructor.  Your guide will give you a few helpful tips before you get on the board.  Then after practicing a bit, we’ll strike out on a short trip to give you the feel of touring on SUP’s.  Boards, paddles, and life jackets are provided.  No previous paddling experience is required.  You must be at least 12 years old to take this program.  Children ages 11-16 must have a parent or guardian take the class with them.

SUP Basics (schedule)

If you’ve been hooked by the stand-up paddleboard bug, you’ll want to work on improving your basic skills so you can get the most enjoyment out of the sport.  In SUP Basics, you’ll learn the proper way to perform basic strokes to increase your stamina, improve your control, and reduce the risk of injury.  We’ll also cover some of the information to help you make good choices when buying your own equipment.  You must be at least 12 years old to take this class.  Children ages 11-16 must have a parent or guardian take the class with them.

Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Introduction to equipment – boards, leashes, paddles, life jackets
  • Sizing a paddle
  • Paddling while prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing
  • Carrying and cartopping a board
  • Forward stroke
  • Reverse stroke
  • Sweeps and turning strokes
  • Draw stroke
  • Bracing
  • Launching and landing from shore and docks
  • Safety considerations for SUP paddling


Kevin Canoe cropCanoeing Programs

Try Canoeing (schedule)

If you’ve never been in a canoe and would like to give it a try with the help of an instructor/guide, this is your opportunity.  You will receive a quick tutorial on basic strokes along with how to get in and out of a canoe safely.  If you enjoy your experience (and we’re sure you will)  you may want to consider taking “Introduction to Canoeing” for more comprehensive instruction in basic canoeing skills and safety.  No previous paddling experience is required for either of the canoe programs.  Participants of all ages are welcome in “Try Canoeing”, however children under the age of 16 should be in a boat with a parent, and children under the age of 10 should be in a boat with 2 adults.


Canoe Basics (schedule)
There is a good chance that you have been in a canoe at some time in your life, but it is likely that you never had any real lessons.  You may have had some very frustrating days trying to control a canoe in the wind or in a current.  Perhaps you have always paddled in the bow seat and lack the confidence to paddle from the stern.  Whether you are interested primarily in solo or tandem canoeing, you can learn how to make your canoe go where you want it to go. Learning to paddle efficiently makes your canoeing experience much more enjoyable and less tiring. It can also save relationships on the water. This is an introductory 3-hour class that will cover basic strokes and knowledge.  You may be encouraged to try a controlled capsize and assisted re-entry if time and weather permits, but this is not a mandatory part of the course.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

• Introduction to equipment – canoes, paddles, and life jackets
• Canoe safety
• Lifting and carrying the canoes
• Entry and exit of a canoe from shore and docks
• Responsibilities of the bow and stern paddlers
• Forward and reverse strokes
• Stopping a canoe
• Forward and reverse sweeps for turning
• Draw strokes and push-away/pry strokes
• J- stroke
• Car topping a canoe
• Low and high braces (if time permits)

IMGP1632 Recreational Kayaking Programs


Try Kayaking (schedule)

This is not a class, but rather an opportunity to try paddling a kayak in a supervised setting on a protected body of water. The guide can answer questions about the kayaks helping you to understand the differences between recreational and touring styles, and will give you some quick instruction on getting in and out of the boats, holding the paddle properly, and performing basic strokes. This is a very short, 2-hour experience for those who have never been in a kayak before and are curious about whether they would like it.  Absolutely no previous experience in a canoe or kayak is necessary.  Participants of all ages are welcome, although for children under the age of 16 it is required that a parent or guardian sign up for the trip along with the child.



Recreational Kayaking Basics (schedule)
This class is designed for paddlers who have already purchased a recreational kayak (under 14 feet long, over 25″ wide with large cockpit opening and minimal flotation) or those people who are certain that they will only want to paddle on small, inland lakes and slow-moving rivers.  In 2 ½ hours we will cover the basic strokes needed to maneuver your kayak efficiently. Students will not be asked to perform a wet exit, and there are no rescue or re-entry skills taught in this class.  Recreational kayaks are not suitable in waters where these skills would be necessary such as on the Great Lakes, large lakes and rivers, or whitewater rivers.  This class can be taken as a very basic introduction to the sport.  However, if you have not yet purchased a kayak of your own and have paddled very few different boats, I strongly recommend that you consider the “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” class as it gives a more comprehensive introduction to the sport of kayaking.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Introduction of equipment – kayaks, paddles, and life jackets
  • Safety considerations in using recreational kayaks
  • Entering and exiting your kayak
  • Forward stroke
  • Reverse stroke
  • Stopping your kayak
  • Forward and reverse sweeps for turning
  • Draw strokes to move a kayak sideways
  • Lifting and carrying your kayak
  • Bow and stern rudder strokes (if time permits)


P1000127Kids In Kayaks (schedule)

Separate Sessions for Ages 10-12 & 13-15

Kids naturally seem to enjoy kayaking and pick it up quite easily when they are having fun.  Students will receive basic instruction in the skills needed to propel and maneuver a kayak along with an introduction to the different kinds of kayaks, and then it’s on to the fun and games!  Classes are divided by age.  There will be a variety of kayaks at each session.  Kids will get a chance to paddle recreational kayaks, sea kayaks, and whitewater kayaks.  Give your child the opportunity to experience the enjoyment and excitement of this healthy, active sport.  Since tipping over seems to be half the fun when it comes to kids in kayaks, getting wet is almost guaranteed.  While everyone wears a life jacket at all times, participants should be comfortable swimming.

Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Basic strokes for maneuvering (forward, reverse, stopping, sweeps, draws)
  • Wet exit
  • Rescues
  • Water safety


River Kayaking Programs

Introduction to Moving Water (schedule)

If you will be doing most of your paddling on rivers, or are interested in getting started in whitewater kayaking, this course is designed to introduce you to the concepts of reading water and understanding the physics of moving water.  You will also work on the skills necessary to paddle safely in currents.  The first part of the class is taught on flatwater with little or no current.  The second half of the class is held on moving water (Class 1).  It is recommended that you take “Recreational Kayaking Basics” or “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” first before taking this course to develop your basic maneuvering strokes.  You should be comfortable controlling a kayak in flatwater before taking it into current.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Basic kayak strokes for maneuvering (forward, reverse, sweeps, draw)
  • Wet exits
  • Edging a kayak
  • Identifying river features (eddies, eddy lines, holes, downstream V’s, upstream V’s, wave trains)
  • Learning to read the water
  • Eddy turns, peel outs, ferrying
  • Identifying river hazards
  • Swimming in a rapid
  • Simple river rescue for Class 1 moving water
  • River running strategies
  • Scouting a rapid


Sherri Gilmore GTIntroduction to Whitewater Kayaking (schedule)
For many paddlers, there is nothing better than to enjoy the beauty and excitement of a fast-flowing river.  However, there are some unique challenges and risks that go along with the satisfaction and enjoyment.  If you aspire to venture out on class II or higher water in the future, you will want to get some formal instruction before heading out on your own.  This is a 2-day course held on the Wolf River in north central Wisconsin.  We will start out the first day getting used to paddling whitewater kayaks on a nearby lake before heading out for practice on some easier rapids.  On the second day, you’ll spend most of the day on the river and be challenged by some slightly bigger rapids.  The Wolf River is a fantastic location for learning how to paddle on whitewater as there are stretches of river to accommodate all skill levels from beginner to advanced.  You can challenge yourself as much or as little as you feel comfortable.  If time permits, there may be opportunities to begin working on rolling your kayak, although this is not the primary focus of this class.

Lodging and meals are not included in the price of this course.  We will be meeting at the Bear Paw Outdoor Adventure Resort in White Lake, Wisconsin in Langlade County.  The Bear Paw has lodging options ranging from tent camping to cabins with full kitchens and there are restaurants in the area for those who prefer not to cook.  For information on booking a stay at the Bear Paw, you can check out their website or call 715-882-3502.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Introduction to whitewater equipment
  • Basic strokes for maneuvering (forward, reverse, sweeps, draws, stopping)
  • Identifying river features (eddies, eddy lines, holes, downstream V’s, upstream V’s, wave trains)
  • Reading the water/understanding the Class I-VI rating system
  • Scouting a rapid
  • Eddy turns, peel outs, ferrying in Class I-II water
  • Identifying river hazards
  • Swimming in a rapid
  • Basic self-rescue and assisted rescues
  • River safety and group organization
  • Car topping and carrying whitewater kayaks
  • Introduction to bracing and rolling (as time permits)


Rolling a Whitewater Kayak (schedule)

If you are interested in learning to roll your whitewater kayak, you can register to take “Beginning to Roll” listed below under the “Next Steps” courses for Sea Kayakers.  Whether you are using a whitewater kayak or a sea kayak, the skill of rolling is performed the same way.  Since you will be using your own kayak for this course, there is no problem having a mixed group of sea kayaks and whitewater kayaks in class.

smartbox-photo-lindseySea Kayaking Programs

Introduction to Sea Kayaking (schedule)
This course is the best overall choice for people looking for their first instructional experience in a kayak. Absolutely no previous paddling experience is required. If you have never kayaked before and don’t really know where you will paddle or in what kind of kayak, this class gives you the broadest introduction to the sport providing a solid basis upon which to make future decisions about your participation in the sport. This class is taught in touring-style (sea) kayaks which are longer (over 14 feet) and narrower (under 25″) than recreational kayaks and are better suited to paddling longer distances on larger bodies of water. We will cover the basic strokes used to paddle all types of kayaks, and safety skills that are unique to the touring kayak. Most classes take place on a protected inland lake, but for paddlers who aspire to paddling on the rougher waters of the Great Lakes or oceans, this course will be the first step towards acquiring the skills necessary to venture out on those waters. Classes meet for 6 hours on one day. Time on the water is approximately 3 ½ – 4 hours broken up into 2 sessions. The remaining time is spent learning on shore including a lunch break.

Students will be practicing skills that involve being fully immersed in the water.  The instructor will have wetsuits available for students to use in classes where the water is less than seventy degrees such as classes in spring and early summer and any classes on Lake Michigan.  If you get cold easily and would like to use a wetsuit for classes when water temperatures are above seventy, please request a wetsuit when registering.

If you have already taken an introductory sea kayaking course or are looking to work on specific skills for sea kayaking, check out the schedule of “Next Steps for Sea Kayakers” courses listed further down on this page.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Introduction to equipment – kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and accessories
  • Making adjustments to a kayak to improve fit and performance
  • Entering and exiting a kayak from shore
  • Wet exit
  • Paddle float solo re-entry and assisted re-entry from the water
  • Making safe decisions about where and when to paddle
  • Forward and reverse strokes
  • Stopping your kayak
  • Forward and reverse sweeps for turning
  • Draw strokes to move a kayak sideways
  • J-lean for improved control
  • Lifting and carrying your kayak


“Next Steps” – For Sea Kayakers
After taking “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” you’ll want to continue your skill development with the “Next Steps” programs. Each course is another step in your development towards becoming a more accomplished paddler. The numbering of the steps is a suggested order in which the courses can be taken, but it is not absolute that you must take them in this order. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can answer specific questions by e-mail, or we can arrange to have a phone conversation to determine what course best meets your needs.


Step 1 – Forward Stroke Clinic (schedule)
There is a huge payoff for improving the stroke that you will use 99% of the time.  Whether you are planning to race, want to exercise for fitness, take long trips, or just paddle recreationally, proper technique will allow you to paddle farther, faster, and with less risk of injury.   In this 3-hour class, you will focus exclusively on increasing the efficiency of your forward stroke, something even the most experienced paddlers can always stand to work on.   The instructor will make use of video analysis of your stroke to help you make beneficial changes to your technique.  Even if you have already taken this course in the past, you may want to consider taking it again.  There are over 20 different coaching points that students can be working on to improve their own stroke.  Chances are, you were only given a few of those points to focus on the first time you took the class.  If you’ve mastered those points, you can move on to the finer points of a good forward stroke.  Students in this class can use any kind of kayak.


Low Angle StrokeSkills and Information Covered in this Course

  • Low angle/ touring forward stroke
  • High angle/ power forward stroke
  • Using torso rotation and core muscles to increase power and speed
  • Improving technique to increase efficiency


Using a Wing Paddle

If you are interested in getting into racing, or just want to learn more about this unusually-shaped paddle, you may request to use a wing paddle during your Forward Strokes class.  A wing paddle greatly increases the efficiency of the forward stroke, but can be awkward to use, at first.  Skills and information covered are the same regardless of whether you use a wing paddle or the more common Euro-blade paddle, however the emphasis will be on using a high angle/power forward stroke which is more easily performed in narrower sea kayaks and racing kayaks.  Please make sure to call Sherri at 262-895-2008 or e-mail in advance to request a wing paddle to use for class.


Step 2 – Better Boat Control (Levels 1 & 2) (schedule)
Basic strokes will get you where you need to go, but there are many more strokes and techniques that can be used to help you maneuver and control your kayak.  In this course we will focus on paddling concepts such as balance, edging, rotation, blade angle, use of reverse strokes, and leverage and how they apply to basic and intermediate strokes.  Being able to make your boat “dance” in the waves is the hallmark of the skilled paddler. Learn to comfortably paddle your kayak on edge, perform strokes efficiently, and fluidly link different strokes together. Refine your boat control to increase your confidence in waves as you master the skills that separate the beginners from the experienced kayakers.  Level 2 builds on the skills and strokes learned in Level 1.  Students in this course should ideally have a kayak less than 26″ wide with thigh braces or a cockpit that allows the paddler to hook his/her knees under the deck.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:
Review of basic strokes (forward, reverse, stopping sweeps, and draws)

  • Torso rotation
  • Control of your paddle blade edges (blade manipulation)
  • J-lean/edging your kayak
  • Balance
  • Leverage
  • High angle/ power forward stroke
  • Sculling draws and braces
  • Low and High bracing
  • Bow and stern rudder strokes
  • Hanging draw
  • Low brace turn

Step 2C – Better Boat Control with Ballast! (schedule)

Do you wish you could put your sea kayak on edge the way you’ve seen more skilled paddlers do it?  Do you fear capsize when you attempt to edge your boat, or struggle to just keep it upright?  For many students, ballast is a tremendous learning tool that can remove some of the fears and obstacles that prevent them from successfully edging a sea kayak as it was designed to do to enhance maneuverability and seaworthiness.  In this course, you will have the opportunity to see how the addition of temporary ballast can make a remarkable difference in your ability to learn skills like bracing and using edging to turn your boat more easily.  We will be using the Paddling Partner™ kayak ballast system  which is easily added to most sea kayaks with no gluing or modifications of any kind having to be made to your kayak.  The inventor of the Paddling Partner™ will be on hand to help with the installations, and you will be able to practice both with and without the ballast in your boat to compare the difference that it makes for you as Sherri takes you through your boat control class.



Step 3 – Safety & Rescues (Levels 1, 2, & 3) (schedule)
You wouldn’t want to stand by helplessly as a friend or family member struggled unsuccessfully to re-enter his/her kayak after a capsize. What would you do if a companion is becoming too tired to keep up with the group as night is falling or a storm is approaching? What would you do if YOU were struggling to get back into your kayak with no one else in sight? Whether you paddle alone or in a group, every kayaker is ultimately responsible for his/her own safety. As such, you want to be proactive in preventing problems and well-equipped to address them when they arise. In “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” you learn one basic solo and one basic assisted rescue. These are good solid skills to master, but what will you do if these rescues don’t work in a particular situation? Having a full ‘bag of tricks’ to work with can mean the difference between an inconvenient capsize and a full-blown emergency when you are out on the water. Level 1 is a must for everyone who paddles a sea kayak.  It will help you to expand your rescue and re-entry skills and give you suggestions on what safety gear you should carry.  Level 2 adds a strong focus on towing and solo recoveries. Required Equipment – 14′ or longer touring (sea) kayak with front and rear bulkheads.

The Level 1 course is held on inland lakes where the water is warmer and conditions are more protected.  These more benign conditions make it more comfortable to spend time in the water as you are learning re-entry and rescue techniques.  Level 2 courses are taught in Lake Michigan where the water is generally colder.  You should have paddle clothing appropriate for immersion in water that is less than 70 degrees.  It is generally recommended that you take the Level 1 course before taking the Level 2 course unless you have previous experience paddling on the Great Lakes or have spoken to Sherri about your particular situation.


Skills and Information Covered in Level 1:

  • Introduction to safety and rescue equipment
  • Outfitting your kayak for safety
  • Paddle float self-rescues with variations on the re-entry technique
  • Using a rescue sling/stirrup
  • Assisted “T” rescues with variations on the re-entry technique such as the “heel hook”


Skills and Information Covered in Level 2:

  • Review of rescues from Level 1
  • Dressing for immersion in cold water
  • Towing (with and without tow lines)
  • “Cowboy” scramble solo re-entry
  • Rescues in wind, waves, and cold water


Level 3:  Advanced Rescues

If you are a prudent sea kayaker or responsible for others on the water, you want to be prepared to handle whatever situations that may arise.  In the “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” class, students learn one basic solo and one basic assisted rescue/recovery.  In the “Safety & Rescues – Level 1 & 2” classes, we expand on those basic solo and assisted recovery skills to enlarge the “bag of tricks” that you can draw on when those basic rescues prove unsuccessful.  “Level 3 – Advanced Rescues” takes you one step further covering skills that can be critical in a true emergency, and some that are rarely covered in any safety and rescues class such as rescuing a tandem kayak or kayaks without bulkheads.  “Level 1 – Safety & Rescues” or comparable experience is a prerequisite for this class.

Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • “Hand of God/Hand Over” rescue for incapacitated paddlers
  • Scoop rescue
  • Bow rescue
  • Bow Roll rescue
  • “All In” rescue
  • Rescuing tandem kayaks
  • Rescuing kayaks without bulkheads


Step 4 – Bracing (schedule)
As you become more proficient with your kayaking skills, you may find yourself going out in bigger waves and stronger winds increasing the possibility of capsize. If you enjoy paddling on rivers, crossing eddy lines can leave you feeling a bit unstable. The answer in all cases is to get comfortable bracing to maintain or regain your stability when the risk of capsize exists. There are many different bracing strokes that can be used in a variety of different situations. We will cover both high and low braces, and you will learn an easy 3-step progression that can be used to practice bracing without the inconvenience of repeated capsizes. This class meets one day for 3 hours.


Tim low braceSkills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • High and low slapping braces
  • High and low sweeping braces
  • High and low sculling braces
  • Extended paddle bracing position
  • Low brace turn
  • Bracing into waves
  • J-lean/ edging your kayak
  • Hip snap


Sherri Greenland roll 8-28-07 Step 5 – Beginning to Roll (schedule)

The fastest and safest method of self-rescue after a capsize is the roll. Even if you don’t generally paddle in conditions that are likely to cause you to capsize, the process of learning to roll yields many side benefits besides quick self-rescue. Your boat control will improve, and you will have increased confidence in your bracing. Rolling is a relatively simple skill to perform, but a daunting skill to learn since most of us do not relish spending time upside down in our kayaks. However, just about anyone can learn to roll if they are willing to invest the time and effort. You are not guaranteed to have a roll by the end of the class, but you will have the tools you need to continue practicing until you achieve success. Consider signing up for this class with a friend, if possible. That way you’ll have a partner to practice with after class is over. This class meets for 2 hours each day on three separate days for a total of 6 hours. Video analysis may be used where appropriate to help identify any areas for improvement.

For those paddlers who have learned to roll, want to work on an offside roll, or just improve the reliability of their current roll, I suggest calling to schedule private instruction.  Most of these situations will probably only require one or two short 1-hour lessons to achieve your objectives.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Outfitting your kayak for a better fit
  • Wet exit
  • Rolling skills practiced on shore and in very shallow water
  • Hip snap
  • Bow rescue
  • Getting comfortable hanging out upside down under water in your kayak
  • Sweep roll or extended paddle sweep roll
  • Paddle float re-entry and roll


Step 5B – Greenland-style Rolling and Bracing (by request)

Greenland-style sea kayaking is a more traditional form of paddling using the skinny wooden paddles and lower volume sea kayaks.  These unique paddles work very well for performing graceful, low-impact rolls and braces.  If you have not yet learned to roll your kayak, it is recommended that you first take a rolling class like “Step 5 – Beginning to Roll”.  Students need to provide their own equipment for this class, including the Greenland-style paddle, although we do have a few extra Greenland paddles available to use by prior arrangement.  It is not necessary to have a traditional skin-on-frame kayak, but it is easier to learn these skills in a low-volume sea kayak with a lower rear deck.  Skills covered in this 2-hour course will vary depending on the previous experience of the students and their goals, but may include any of the following:

  • Balance brace/static brace
  • Sculling high brace
  • Traditional extended paddle sweep roll
  • Angel roll
  • Shotgun roll
  • Norsaq (throwing stick) roll



Step 6 – Navigation (Levels 1 & 2) (schedule)
Navigation is important for taking longer trips in unfamiliar waters, but it is also a critical skill on a local day trip when fog rolls in or visibility is obscured by rain or snow.

Step 6A – Classroom:  Level 1 is a 2-hour classroom course designed to provide paddlers with the knowledge and skills for pre-trip planning and an understanding of on-water navigation concepts including reading and preparing charts for easier use while on the water.  It is recommended that you take this course before taking the Level 2 on-water Navigation course.

Step 6B – On-water:  Level 2 meets on Lake Michigan and focuses on practical on-water navigational skills. You will need to provide your own kayaking equipment, including a properly outfitted sea kayak with deck-mounted compass and clothing/gear appropriate for paddling on Lake Michigan and appropriate immersion clothing for water temperatures below 70 degrees. Students should be comfortable paddling in moderate wind and waves.


Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Reading charts and maps
  • Preparing charts prior to a trip
  • Using a deck-mounted compass and hand-held orienteering compass
  • Determining bearings off a chart
  • Piloting and dead reckoning
  • Aiming off


Step 7 – Open Water Skills (schedule)
With Lake Michigan practically at our doorstep, it is quite natural that many kayakers would want to paddle there. However, the Great Lakes are really inland seas that require special equipment and a greater level of skill and knowledge to paddle safely. Weather and waves on large bodies of water can be unpredictable and conditions can get rough. If you are interested in kayaking on the ocean or the Great Lakes, this class will cover the basic skills, equipment, and judgment needed to paddle in more challenging conditions. Students should be comfortable in moderate wind and waves. Required Equipment: 14′ or longer touring kayak with front and rear bulkheads and paddle clothing suitable for immersion in cold water.


IMGP1206Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Review of basic strokes
  • J-lean/edging your kayak while paddling
  • Bracing
  • Paddling in waves
  • Towing
  • Solo and assisted rescues & re-entries
  • Using a VHF radio
  • Essential and recommended safety gear
  • Evaluating conditions and hazards
  • Nautical “Rules of the Road”
  • Basic navigation/ piloting

(Some skills may be omitted or altered depending on wave and weather conditions on the day of class.)


Step 8 – Surf & Waves (Levels 1 & 2) (schedule)
If you paddle on larger bodies of water, sooner or later you will need to launch or land through breaking waves.

Step 8A – Understanding Surf & Waves: Level 1 is a 2-hour classroom course that focuses on helping you to better understand the formation and effects of different kinds of waves.  We will also discuss strategies for paddling in rough water environments and etiquette for those who wish to surf in their kayaks.  Taking this class is recommended for those taking the on-water Level 2 course.

Bob in surf-cropInformation Covered in the Classroom Session:

  • Concepts of wave formation
  • Types of waves
  • Understanding the dynamics of the surf zone
  • Individual and group strategies for dealing with launching and landing in surf
  • Surfing etiquette


Step 8B – Paddling in Surf & Waves: Level 2 meets on Lake Michigan.  In this 3-hour class, you will learn about skills and strategies to help you navigate the surf zone safely and in control. Because the presence of surf is dependent on wind conditions, we can’t guarantee perfect waves, but we can usually find areas of rebounding waves next to the many breakwalls in the Milwaukee Harbor.  There are also ways to simulate side surfing without the surf.  Required Equipment: 14′ or longer touring kayak with front and rear bulkheads and paddle clothing suitable for immersion in cold water.  A helmet is recommended.  If you do not have one, please contact Sherri prior to class.

Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Edging your kayak
  • Low bracing
  • Reading wave patterns
  • Understanding wave formation
  • Side surfing (“bongo slide”)
  • Strategies to catch waves and/or to avoid surfing
  • Swimming your kayak through surf


ACA Skill Assessments Courses (schedule)

The American Canoe Association (ACA) has developed “Assessment” courses  as a tool to give paddlers a clear progression for skill development.  Working through the assessment courses gives you assurance that you are improving your skills and not missing any critical skills and/or information which can be an issue if you are largely self-taught or have taken courses from a variety of sources.  Working toward skill certifications can provide a paddler with motivation to practice important safety skills and gives an added feeling of accomplishment when you advance to that next level.  Receiving objective feedback from a certified instructor and official documentation of your skills can be helpful when working with guides/outfitters who may rate their trips according to the skill level and experience required for participation.  Upon successful completion of each Skills Assessment checklist, your instructor will submit paperwork to the ACA and you will receive official documentation of your level of skill from the ACA National Office.  For anyone who aspires to become an instructor, obtaining these skill certifications is an important step in preparing to take the Instructor Development Workshop (IDW) and Instructor Certification Exam (ICE).

The ACA Level 3/Level 4 Coastal Kayaking Assessment offered by SherriKayaks is a 2-day program.  The first day will be a review of the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully complete the assessment on day 2.  It is recommended that you take the full 2-day program, but if you have more extensive paddling experience and feel that you are prepared to take the assessment without the review, you have the option of registering for just the second day at a reduced cost.  If you have questions, please contact Sherri.

Assessment courses can be requested from SherriKayaks Outdoor Programs in the following disciplines:

  • Level 1 Kayaking Skills
  • Levels 2-4 Coastal Kayaking
  • Levels 2-3 River Kayaking
  • Levels 1-2 Tandem Touring Canoe
  • Levels 1 SUP
  • Coastal Kayaking Day Trip Leader

Note: to receive Skills Assessment documentation, you must be a current ACA member.  The cost of an ACA membership is in addition to the cost of the assessment course.


 Hands-On Classroom Programs

For additional classroom programs, check out the classroom sessions for the following “Next Step”  sea kayaking courses:

Knots for Paddlers (schedule)

If you are one of those people who feel “knot-impaired” when it comes time to secure a boat to your vehicle, replacing deck lines on your kayak, or just rigging guy lines for your tent or tarp, this class is for you.  Class size is kept small so you will get all the personal attention you need to learn how to tie the most important and useful knots for paddle sports applications.  While technically not a knot, we’ll also cover the skill of “daisy chaining” which is useful for shortening long lines and to keep them from getting tangled.  If you have some specific knots that you are looking to learn not listed below, you are encouraged to contact Sherri in advance so that she can have the correct materials on hand for teaching those knots.

Knots that are taught in this class:

  • Trucker’s hitch
  • Bowline
  • Half hitch
  • Double fisherman’s knot
  • Overhand stopper knot
  • Water knot
  • Figure eight
  • Daisy chain


Boat Maintenance and Repair for Paddlers (schedule)

Buying a canoe, kayak, or SUP is a major investment for most people.  With care and a little basic maintenance, your paddle craft should last decades.  Find out what kinds of maintenance you should be performing on your boat, and learn how to make some simple repairs – both on the water and at home.  We’ll also discuss the items that should be carried with you for trips to handle emergency repairs along with suggestions for the tools and materials you should have on hand to keep you craft in top repair.  If you have a repair issue on your personal boat that you think you might like to tackle during the class, please contact Sherri in advance to find out if it will be feasible and to make arrangements in advance.

Repair Seminar Repair skills and topics that may be covered in this class:

  • deckline and bungee replacement
  • cleaning and routine maintenance
  • troubleshooting rudders and skegs
  • fiberglass patching
  • gel-coat repair
  • plastic welding
  • making emergency on-water repairs
  • creating your own repair kits
  • simple modifications and upgrades to your boat’s outfitting


 Cold Weather Paddling (schedule)

If you live in most parts of the United States, you either have to stop paddling for part of the year or learn how to paddle in cold weather.  Sea kayakers can often paddle on the Great Lakes throughout the winter, and whitewater kayakers usually find the best river levels in spring when melting snow raises the flow.  Here in Wisconsin, we have to learn how to paddle in cold water even when the air temperatures are warm.  Whatever your reason for being on the water, there are some definite risks to paddling in cold water and cold weather so you’ll want to learn how to do it safely.  With the right gear, skills, and knowledge, you can extend your paddling season by several weeks or even months!

Skills and Topics covered in this class:

  • advantages of winter paddling
  • symptoms of hypothermia
  • risks of hypothermia
  • symptoms of cold shock
  • risks of cold shock
  • dressing for cold air and water
  • dressing for warm air and cold water
  • launching and landing from icy shores
  • risk management
  • specialized safety equipment

Special Interest Classes – By Request

Kayaking for Fitness (by request)
Kayaking is an enjoyable, life-long, low-impact activity that makes exercise fun! During this course we’ll discuss fundamental training concepts that apply to all fitness activities. Once on the water, participants will sample different styles of workouts with the kayaks with everyone working at their own pace.  We will spend a short amount of time, as needed, on improving the forward and reverse paddling strokes in order to facilitate fitness goals.  This can be a great cross training activity to get you out of a stale workout routine or perhaps be the motivation you need to get you started on an exercise program.  Paddling equipment is provided.  Participants should have the approval of their personal physician before beginning any exercise routine.

Skills and Information Covered in this Course:

  • Training Principles (Overloading, Targeting, Rest & Recovery, Overtraining, Variation, Adaptation and Reversibility)
  • Flexibility and Stretching
  • Aerobic and Anaerobic training
  • How weight training and other exercises can improve paddling fitness
  • Heart Rate Zones/ Intensity Levels
  • Warming Up and Cooling Down
  • Interval Training
  • Kayaking equipment needed


Greenland-style Rolling and Bracing (by request)

Greenland-style sea kayaking is a more traditional form of paddling using the skinny wooden paddles and lower volume sea kayaks.  These unique paddles work very well for performing graceful, low-impact rolls and braces.  If you have not yet learned to roll your kayak, it is recommended that you first take a rolling class like “Step 5 – Beginning to Roll”.  Students need to provide their own equipment for this class, including the Greenland-style paddle, although we do have a few extra Greenland paddles available to use by prior arrangement.  It is not necessary to have a traditional skin-on-frame kayak, but it is easier to learn these skills in a low-volume sea kayak with a lower rear deck.  Skills covered in this 2-hour course will vary depending on the previous experience of the students and their goals, but may include any of the following:

  • Balance brace/static brace
  • Sculling high brace
  • Traditional extended paddle sweep roll
  • Angel roll
  • Shotgun roll
  • Norsaq (throwing stick) roll


Custom Programs

Private Lessons (schedule)
If you don’t see a course that meets your needs or fits your schedule, consider arranging a private or semi-private lesson. You’ll get lots of personal attention and we can focus on those areas where you need the most instruction. Whatever your reason for wanting a private lesson, give me a call and I’ll attempt to set up a time that’s convenient for you. In most cases, you should plan to schedule at least a 2-hour lesson in order to have enough time to cover the skills you want to work on. If you have a group of at least 3 people, we can schedule any of the above classes at a time that works for your group and you will pay the regular tuition for that course.  For current private lesson rates, click on the schedule link above.  To schedule a private lesson please call or e-mail Sherri.


Mentor Program (more information)

This program is designed for paddlers who have taken some basic instruction, have their own boat and equipment, and want to become a more knowledgeable and skilled paddler, but are unsure of the best way to accomplish that objective on their own.  You may have a desire to master a particular skill or set of skills, take a special trip, or to achieve a certain level of certification as a paddler or instructor.  The Mentor Program can help you clarify your goals and put you solidly on the path to reaching those goals.

Adaptive Programs (more information)

All SherriKayaks classes and trips are open to anyone who meets the Essential Eligibility Criteria for safely participating in a paddling activity.  If you would like to schedule a specific programs for a group of individuals with particular concerns or challenges or are interested in private instruction, please call 262-895-2008 or e-mail Sherri to discuss available options



Women’s Programs

Generally speaking, men and women have the same list of reasons for taking up the sports of canoeing and kayaking.  Brute strength is not a requirement for paddling, in fact, no one is strong enough to overcome the power of water.  The best paddlers learn to work with the water, a lesson that women often learn sooner than men. Women should not be afraid to take any of the courses offered by SherriKayaks Outdoor Programs.  Students do not compete with each other, nor are they compared with each other.  However, if you are just more comfortable learning in the company of other women, please call or e-mail Sherri to see how we might be able to accommodate you.  If you have a group of 3 or more women that would like to schedule a “women only” private class, we can do that.  You can also check out the information about private lessons above.


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