The joy of teaching canoeing & news!

By Tom Lindblade
President, Illinois Paddling Council

I first taught someone how to paddle working at a summer camp in 1961, and off and on again, I have been doing it ever since. Looking back almost 50 years, I can say that most of what I taught that summer would be judged to be incorrect nowadays, and some might be considered downright dangerous. I had learned it by trial and error and from the Boy Scouts. Even then, I got a kick out of seeing kids with wide grins on their faces as they maneuvered those 85-pound Grumman aluminum boats around the camp waterfront.

There has been a lot of water under a lot of boats since then. The boats have changed, the curriculum has changed, and I have changed, but what hasn’t changed is the kick I still get out of seeing someone master a particular maneuver or stroke. Over many years as a professional experiential educator and therapist, I taught, or assisted in the teaching of, just about every major outdoor skill, and counseled a lot of people. And yet, when I retired, and could choose what I wanted to continue to do, I realized that I was ready to give most of it up (Been there, done that!), but I was still getting a kick out of paddling and teaching paddling. Since retirement, I have certified close to 150 canoeing instructors. Now that I have to step back a bit and let others do some of the more active parts of the curriculum, I am forced to ask myself once again, why stay with it?

The answer came yesterday as I was assisting with a moving water course. The students were practicing maneuvers, and I was coaching from shore. One of the safety boaters came over after observing for a while and said “Boy, they really look much better now.” I realized I was having a lot of fun seeing them do better, and they were excited as they saw their skills improving. It came to me that it is the experience of that fun and excitement that keeps me coming back. I believe it is also what motivates most of the instructors I know.

Still waiting for the V

Several newspapers and a lot of e-mails last week and even today (see link below) have indicated that the deal was done and signed and that the Vermilion would be open soon. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether a deal between the cement company and the DNR has actually been signed. According to a highly-placed DNR official, as of a few days ago, the deal had not been finalized. And since there has not been an official announcement from the DNR, it seems likely that is still the case. Whatever the status of talks, it is clear that a great deal will have to be accomplished before the river can be opened. Assuming that the reports that the DNR will be placing buoys and remediating the dam are true, accomplishing that in a few weeks seems highly questionable.

Go to The Times of Ottawa’s Web site for  more information:

Poling workshops

Jackie Webbenmayer is the new poling chairman for the ACA’s midwest region. As part of her effort to revitalize poling in the midwest, she will be holding two events in Missouri this summer on the Meremec River, in the shadow of the birthplace of modern recreational poling.

June 19—She will host an informal poling workshop at her cabin on the Meremec, near Eureka. This was the Beletz cabin in the 1960s, where the Beletz brothers began teaching the sport and holding races.

July 24—At Meramec State Park near Sullivan. This is part of an annual Stream Team celebration that begins at 10 a.m. There will be seminars related to stream ecology and monitoring, games for kids and probably music in the afternoon. From 3 to 4 there will be a poling workshop, and races at 4 p.m.

IMPORTANT: At the June event, Jackie will have a limited number of canoes and poles, or bring your own if you have them. Bring your own pfds and other personal gear. In July, there will be more canoes available, but again, bring your other gear. Jackie NEEDS TO KNOW IN ADVANCE what the poler population will be. Contact her for more information or to let her know of your interest. Contact her at, or (314) 681-6621.

Four weeks left

The Aurora Paddlesports Festival II, is June 12-13.

Here’s your chance to give back to the sport we all love, and have a great time while doing it. APF is a true gathering of the paddling clan and is run totally by volunteers. With your help, the Aurora Paddlesports Festival II will once again be the Premier Midwest Destination to introduce people to the world of paddling.

You can help in three ways:

1.If you are an instructor, you can teach in your paddling discipline. Please e-mail Tom Lindblade at

2. If you are an intermediate paddler with solid flat-water rescue skills, you can serve as a Safety Boater. Please email Tom Lindblade at

3. Please E-mail Tom Eckels at if you would like to volunteer your time to assist with registration or related activities.

Volunteers will be able to enjoy the following benefits as our thank you for helping: Free test paddling, discounts on instruction, free APF T-shirt, free camping, volunteer raffle for prizes, gratitude of the paddling community.

Enter the Prairie Paddling Film and Photo Fest

Mark and Merri Morrall of Morrall River Films are hosting the first Prairie Paddling Film and Photo Fest during the Aurora Paddlesports Festival June 12 and 13. Enter your best videos, slide shows and pictures.

For details, go to

2010 (Midwest) Home-built kayak/canoe Rendezvous

For do-it-yourselfers, mark down Saturday June 5, 10 a.m., Macatawa Beach, Holland State Park, Holland, Mich. on your calendars.

Come and show off your boat and see what other builders are doing. Have a great day of swapping ideas and doing some paddling on Lake Macatawa and out to Lake Michigan.

For those who would like to camp overnight or for the weekend, many sites are still available in the Woodstock Loop of the Macatawa Camp Ground.

We are planning sunset cruises for both Friday and Saturday evenings and maybe a “Dawn Patrol” for Saturday morning.

For further information: Contact Don Harper Prcaspian10th@

Free downloadable watertrail maps!

ImageExcellent free watertrail maps are available  at

Conservation Congress

About 150 constituents (including a delegation of six paddlers) who care about public access to lands for recreation, getting youth involved with nature, and conservation funding, attended the follow-up Conservation Congress meeting April 13, at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Headquarters, Springfield, Ill. (with an evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion, hosted by the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus).

Lenore Beyer Clow from Openlands urged participants to support HB 6072, which restores liability coverage for recreational access to private land. For Action Alert, Click below.

Paddlers met with Claude Walker, the new DNR Coordinator of Watertrails, whose appointment was withdrawn after Republican opposition.

Gov. Pat Quinn joined participants at the Mansion.

To take action, go to

Don’t forget the The Great River Rendezvous Saturday, May 22!

And yes, you can join the Iliinois Paddling Council at

From the May 19-25, 2010 issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!