Paddling a canoe or wide fishing kayak around a pond is among the most peaceful and pleasant ways to experience the outdoors. Paddle sports, however, pose challenges for people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities.
Fortunately, paddling equipment adapts easily to accommodate many disabilities. Often, special seats that provide greater support and outrigger-type attachments that keep canoes from tipping are the only necessary adaptations.
Adaptive canoeing and wide fishing kayak have been popular at Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports for more than two decades. Its oldest program is based at shallow, manmade Stoughton Pond in Springfield. Coordinator Kelly Walsh is trying to enhance the program. “Our current members have a lot of fun and enjoy the summer days outside,” said Walsh. “I want to get as many people as possible involved.”
Using mostly standard equipment opens a world of accessible recreation and exercise, and enables participants to be social, test personal limits, and learn a new sport.
Vermont Adaptive Canoe and Wide Fishing Kayak Programs
Currently, Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports offers three canoe and kayak programs:
Stoughton Pond (Springfield, VT) Vermont Adaptive’s longest running canoe and kayak program take place Monday through Wednesday throughout the summer, serving clients from southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire.
Lake Champlain Community Sailing (Burlington, VT) Vermont Adaptive’s northern canoe and wide fishing kayak programs are part of the Adaptive Watersports Program located at the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center on the Burlington waterfront. Clients come from all over the state to enjoy a day or weekend of paddling, with opportunities to try other accessible activities such as sailing, tandem cycling, and indoor rock climbing.
Chittenden Reservoir (Central Vermont) Vermont Adaptive’s latest program offers paddling on Wednesdays and Thursdays but expects to expand its schedule based on consumer demand.
Planning a Vermont Adaptive Canoe & Wide Fishing Kayak Trip
Participants are encouraged to bring a change of clothes and a windbreaker or sweatshirt, as temperatures out on the lake can be much cooler than on the shore. It is also a good idea to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, bathing suit, bottled water, and snacks.
Canoeing and wide fishing kayak outings are held Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost $25.00 per person + $10 per hour for canoe and kayak rentals. Adaptive boats are available for private rental. Cancellations with less than 24 hours notice receive a 50% refund. No-shows are charged the full program fee.
Call Kelly Walsh (609.802.4410) for more information on Vermont Adaptive’s Stoughton Pond paddling programs and to make reservations. For information on the Northern Vermont program, call 802.353.3178.
About Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports has been at the forefront of disabled sports in New England for more than 20 years and is committed to empowering disabled people by promoting independence and equality through instruction in accessible sports and recreation.
Canoeing and kayaking are popular forms of accessible recreation as paddle sports accommodate a wide range of disabilities with simple adaptations. Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports continues to lead the way in availing disabled people throughout New England with access to these sports.
Offshore Kayak Fishing Advice For Beginners
Matt Taylor started canoeing when he was 9 years old. He started doing it for sport when he was 13. Although fitness was not the incentive at the time, the effects were noticeable. The most obvious were his growing biceps, triceps and forearms and a strengthening of the core. Now he sees offshore kayak fishing and canoeing as part of a larger fitness regime, whereby the fluid resistance of the water helps strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments. The workout can feel aerobic on long paddles or really tough water. No longer competing, he paddles for recreation, including it in his workout plan along with weights, running, hiking, rock climbing and skiing. He offers the advice below:
Benefits of Offshore Kayak Fishing
Kayaking outdoors is low impact on the body, a lifelong challenge. The fitness gains are good when going long distance, but the strengthening of the arms, joints and shoulders are genuine and important. However, the biggest benefit is in the attitude and perspective. Kayaking brings people face-to-face with real nature, the frothing and often cold chaos of whitewater. It can carries them to the most intimate and beautiful spots in the world. The simple pleasure of floating in that realm allows one to gain a whimsical maturity and humor that is hard to find elsewhere. And it is a lot of fun too!
Get into offshore kayak fishing with patience and with professional guidance early on. A few useful tips from a pro early on can save time, money and energy. The biggest recommendation is getting familiar and comfortable with immersion and with the basic techniques of swimming in whitewater and rolling a kayak.
Take a clinic from a reputable kayak school. So many people learn from their friends, and it often shows on the water (poor technique and judgment). Join a paddle club and get involved with the organizing and logistics of taking a paddling trip: half the fun is often the community and thrill of traveling with other paddlers. It’s a special tribe – get to know it.
At the outset, it’s also a good idea for beginning paddlers to explore venues that allow them to build skills before venturing into more challenging “wild” rivers.
Couple of years ago Matt opened Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) in Western Maryland, the world’s only mountaintop man-made whitewater course. The course’s unique design allowed them to create river conditions suitable for first-time kayakers all the way up to Olympic-level athletes. Matt and his team have begun to see more and more people explore paddling as a way to reconnect with the outdoors and pursue a healthy, active lifestyle.
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