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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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Supported by Trinity House

Either oar

Continue learning and developing your paddle sports skills with the next step in your journey.

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You’ll need

  • Paddle sports equipment

Before you begin

  • These instructions have been adapted from the British Canoeing Paddle Awards, which should be referred to for any further details.
  • Getting ready. Safety is a top priority in all water activities and helping the group to understand what safety equipment they’ll need and what clothes to wear can help calm any nerves and encourage people to think more about safety.
    • Clothing. Think about the types of clothing that’ll be suitable for the weather conditions. For example, lightweight fabrics, wind and waterproofs, and items that protect the wearer from the sun. Is everyone OK with their clothes getting wet or dirty? Are there any items of clothing that’d be more suitable than others? Are shoes and clothing secure enough that they won’t come off in the water? The right clothing is important to keep everyone warm and comfortable. If people are cold and uncomfortable, they won’t have a good time.
    • Equipment. Understanding our equipment can help us to learn how to use it and make decisions for ourselves about what we need. Learning how to check equipment is a great skill too, as we can look for any damage or signs of wear and tear. Spotting these things early helps us keep our gear up to scratch. Before heading out on the water, speak with the person running this activity about what’ll be provided and what everyone will need to bring along. If people purchase their own equipment, make sure you discuss how to care for it, so that it’s protected from saltwater, the sun and incorrect storage.
    • Venue. Learning how to choose a great venue can be the difference between a great day on the water and a mediocre one. Taking an active part in researching and choosing the venue can help everyone to understand what goes into planning paddle sport sessions.
    • Getting on the water. This isn’t as simple as carrying a boat to the bank and hopping in. We need to think about keeping ourselves and the environment safe as we go.
    • Safety. Choose the best way to move the boat. Do you need one person carrying or four? Where does the boat need to go? Are there any obstacles to watch out for?
    • Access. Make sure you have permission to access the water. There are a variety of licences that may be required for your use of some bodies of water. Guidance is available in Canal and river licences.
    • Environment. It’s important not to damage or destroy the environment as we launch, to make sure it’s sustained for others for years to come. We also need to think about the weather and the flow of the water. Will the wind or current push the boats away or is there a better place to launch?
  • Remember, to achieve the Paddle Sports Stage 2, everyone needs to:
    • Lift, carry and launch a boat.
    • Paddle forward in a straight line.
    • Show they can steer around a course.
    • Show they can stop the boat safely.
    • Show they can exit the boat onto the shore safely.
    • Capsize, swim to the shore and empty the boat of water.
  • On the water. There are a few more things to think about, beside further developing skills.
    • Paddling. Continue to explore new and different ways of paddling and controlling the craft. Can I move the boat with fewer strokes or less effort? How can I do this? Can I steer and stop easily? How does my body position affect the boat, its direction and performance?
    • Safety and rescue. Everyone must take an active role in keeping everyone, including themselves, safe. Am I close enough to the bank or other group members? Do I have all of the correct safety equipment and do I know how to use it?  You could book a visit from the RNLI to learn about water safety.
    • Other users. There can be lots of other types of craft, people and wildlife to keep an eye out for. Can I safely move out of the way of other craft? How do I avoid disturbing wildlife? What are the rules for steering clear of other users?

Putting all of the hard work into practice is at the heart of a great paddle sport experience. While every session will be different, the instructions below might be a good place to start. Make sure you’re following the rules for running paddle sport activities like canoeing and kayaking when planning and running sessions.

  1. The person leading the activity should welcome and introduce everyone to the session. Describe the goals, timings, equipment and venue, so everyone knows exactly what’s going on. Give a safety briefing and make sure everyone understands the rules and is comfortable with them. Encouraging discussion around the session plan is a great way to get everyone thinking for themselves and identifying what they need and want to learn. While discussions about safety are useful and important, having one experienced and qualified person to make the final decisions is essential, to avoid confusion and keep everyone safe.
  2. Gear up and head onto the water. Make sure to point out any safety hazards before anyone enters and indicate the activity boundaries on the water. Group members should be able to select, fit and safely use their equipment. This should always be checked by an experienced and qualified instructor.
  3. Have everyone develop their skills on the water. Allow everyone time to explore and experiment with new skills and techniques. Encourage the group to watch and give feedback to everyone else. Additional challenges and advice from the person leading the activity can help to keep everyone moving forward with their skills. Peer feedback is a great tool. It allows people to get feedback from lots of different viewpoints, and encourages everyone to really focus on what other people are doing to get to grips with paddle sports. Anyone going for the Paddle Sports Staged Activity Badge has the chance now to demonstrate their skills.
  4. Leave the water. Once the session is over, head off of the water, making sure to watch out for all safety hazards as before. Take the time to discuss what people might have enjoyed or learnt and give them another opportunity to ask questions.


As you improve your paddlesport skills and spend more time on the water, it’s time to start making your own decisions. Reflecting on what you’ve learnt and achieved is also important to keep improving. What went well and what could’ve been better about the session? What did everyone get the hang of, and what still needs some more work? What might be best to focus on next time?

Peer-to-peer coaching and reflection is a great combination to help everyone learn and get the feedback they need from people you trust. Watching what others do and how they do it can help to improve your own skills and see different ways to do things, while helping others in their journeys too.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Heavy and awkward objects

Never lift or move heavy or awkward items alone. Ask for help or, if possible, break them down into smaller parts.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Near water

Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.

Group members should take an active part in the planning and delivery of their paddle sport sessions. Encouraging everyone to think about what goes into planning a session and doing this for themselves is a great way to step things up.

  • Paddle sports can be made accessible in lots of different ways. Equipment can be adapted, and sessions and venues can be changed. Getting in touch early with your provider is the best way to make sure they can offer an experience that’s suitable for your group.
  • More information and resources are available from Go Paddling.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

This activity was just part of the paddle sport journey. Step it up a level with Paddle Sports Stage 3.

Consider getting in touch with a local paddle sport club or centre to get involved in more sessions and events.

This activity promotes discussions, asking questions and experimentation throughout. These can be very powerful ways to make sure young people have a say in their learning and help them remember what they’ve learnt going forward.