Kayak Center Instructional Programs

Canoe Basics

Almost a private introductory lesson, this small group, relaxed instructional session is an introduction to basic safety, strokes, recovery and flatwater canoeing technique. Learn to canoe while basking in the evening glow of the sunset over the Merrimack river. This course often includes a few swims so be prepared to get wet!

Canoes are related to kayaks but differ in important ways. The most noticeable difference is that most kayaks have decked hulls, meaning they are closed around you, while a canoe is open from the gunwales (outside edges) all around you. Typically, two people paddle a canoe, each using a single-bladed paddle. Canoes are fantastic for many conditions and uses, especially a river like the Merrimack. Because of their open style, they can be haul a lot of gear and can also be carried on your shoulders, so they make great boats for overnight canoe trips when you will need to walk a distance, sometimes between lakes. Some canoes are flatter on the bottom and some are more angled or rounded, giving you different abilities in different kinds of water (flat or moving). If you are interested in just having fun or starting to do some canoe day trips or camping trips, we can help you get the basics down! 


All necessary program equipment is provided.

Please see the plan your visit page for online waivers and what to bring and wear.

Physical Exertion

Easy: Participants will paddle 0-2 mi./0-4 km. on flat water conditions with minimal wind. No previous experience is required. Participant must be able to keep head up while wearing a life jacket in deep water. Paddle times usually run 1-2 hours.


Appropriate for adults and older children when accompanied by a parent.

Must be able to independently keep head above water while wearing in a life jacket/pfd.

No previous experience required.


The cost is $25 and includes instruction and equipment rental.

Canoe Basics Dates and TimesRegistration Link
Thursday, June 16, 2022, 7-9 p.m.Register Online June 16
Thursday, July 14, 2022, 7-9 p.m.Register Online July 14