Kayak or Canoe Instruction - Strokes and Safety

Date and Time

Saturday, July 23, 2022, 9:30AM - 4:00PM


Barton Cove, Gill, Ma,
Massachusetts, Connecticut River Valley,


Registration is required for this activity.


Paddling instruction classes offered for beginners and those who have been paddling but without prior formal instruction. Barton Cove, situated on a beautiful rocky peninsula jutting into the Connecticut River, is an ideal place to learn how to paddle. There is plenty of parking, boat rentals are available onsite and the cove is protected from the wind and any possible currents. Participants will be given instruction on land initially, then together we will venture into the cove. Either canoes or kayaks can be used with specific training in paddle strokes for each craft. This class will be lead by AMC Western Mass paddle leaders who have been trained as paddling instructors by the American Canoe Association. Free rentals of kayaks (12' Pungo) or canoes (17' Old Town) with paddle and lifejacket (PFD) are provided for the day. Or bring your own kayak or canoe. We plan to spend most of the day on the water - dress for the weather and be prepared to get wet (swimming optional but encouraged for rescue skill practice), bring a hat and sunscreen, plenty of drinking water, lunch, and snacks. The day will include instruction and practice in the basic paddle strokes (forward and reverse strokes, turns using sweep strokes, draws, or pries) and a paddle trip around the cove. Paddling games on the water will reinforce skills. Participants may leave in early afternoon or can opt for additional stroke instruction until 4 pm (draw strokes for lateral travel, bow and stern rudder strokes, bracing). Emphasis is on safety throughout the program with discussion of weather, water conditions, river traffic, group safety and communication, and capsize recovery. Wearing a PFD is required at all times while on the water. Children 12- 18 accepted if accompanied on the water by a guardian . Barton Cove also has a camping area nearby. Note that if you choose to camp there, that is not part of an AMC event and you should make your own camping reservation.

AMC Trip Policy

COVID 19 Information: As of December 1, 2021 AMC requires volunteers be vaccinated or receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the start of an event. AMC relies on the honor system for compliance. Participants may be required to wear masks, provide proof of vaccination, or in the alternative a current (within 72 hours) negative PCR test as a condition of attending this event. For your personal safety, you should expect to be in the presence of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in all AMC settings and should make choices about participating accordingly.



Click map for driving directions
Paddling with AMC


Paddling - Flatwater
Paddling - Canoeing

Offered By

Western Massachusetts




for beginners or those with limited experience


Adults (18+)


(best time to call: day or evening)

Deb has been hiking and paddling in New England for over 40 years. She was a whitewater trip leader for AMC in the 1980s and currently leads flatwater and quickwater trips. She paddles kayaks, tandem and solo canoes and holds an instructor certification from the American Canoe Association in Level 1 kayaking and Level 2 tandem canoeing. Her interests are river paddling, canoe camping, hiking, backpacking, and cross country skiing.


Bonna teaches kayaking skills as an American Canoe Association kayak Instructor through summer camps, school programs, and Bold Paths Adventure. She leads day and overnight kayaking trips for AMC, and offers beginning kayakers a no-stress, supportive learning environment. She also teaches river curricula and consults, runs environmental and outdoor education workshops for school and after-school programs, and teaches team building and natural arts.


Dee is an enthusiastic lover of nature and the outdoors. She lived for 28 years on Martha's Vineyard where she kayaked regularly in the ocean along the numerous coves and playing in the waves all around the island. Currently she is a hiking and family programs leader with AMC Western Mass and a paddling leader with AMC Worcester and Western Mass. She is training to lead Adventure travel trips. Dee has been COVID certified by AMC.


Cynthia formerly worked as a biologist for the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where she coordinated invasive plant projects in the Connecticut River watershed, including the water chestnut removal project. (She handed over the water chestnut project to the Connecticut River Conservancy in 2019, but still remains active as a volunteer.) She loves observing birds, plants and all things natural while camping, hiking and paddling.