1-Day River Play Kayaking

1-Day Fundamentals of Freestyle Kayaking

Have you ever watched other kayakers surfing waves and holes or squirting on eddylines and wished you had a coach to help you learn to do these moves yourself? This one-day clinic is ideal for intermediate kayakers who want to learn the basic fun moves to "Play" your way down the river.  For those interested we don't have to stop at the basics.  Freestyle kayaking also includes bow and stern initiations, bow stalls and cartwheels.  We also teach rock spins and splats too.  Paddlers are encouraged to choose what moves they want to focus in on and achieve.

This clinic is held at local playspots such as Hartland Rapid on the Connecticut River and Tariffville Gorge on the Farmington River or stay local on the Deerfield River.  Participants should have a solid class II-III roll and the ability to catch eddies, ferry, and peel out in powerful current.

We will be offering the 1-Day River Play Clinic once per month May through September.  Use the availability widget below to find individual clinic dates. 

Want to do this course as a private, semi-private or with your own group?  Check out our information on custom clinics and when you're ready we will help set-up a great course on your dates.

Price: $139.00 per person includes all equipment, instruction, catered, picnic-style lunch and transportation from our base to and from the paddling sites.

What To Expect & How to Prepare

Goal of the clinic:

To introduce intermediate to advanced kayakers to the skills of freestyle and to help each student progress beyond their skill plateau by polishing up on fundamentals and then taking them through a logical progression to learn the basic freestyle moves.

Who should take the clinic:

To take this clinic you should have taken a Class II or Intermediate clinic at Zoar Outdoor or elsewhere and paddled on class II whitewater enough that you feel comfortable with eddy turns, peel outs, ferries and self-rescues in powerful current. You should have a solid class II-III roll. Our minimum age for this clinic is 14

What will be covered:

After reviewing fundamentals on flatwater, we work on basic surfing and playboating techniques in waves and holes.  Their are a lot of different tricks to experiment with and we'll take folks through a fun progression based on their boat design and ability.  From stern squirts, enders, bow and stern initiations, beginning cartwheels and bow stalls. We emphasize a logical progression of skills from edging the boat to shifting weight to using the paddle for double pumps.  River play is also all about using natural river features to play too; rocks, eddy lines, wave trains, etc.  Many tricks involve recognizing what river features are friendly and which should be avoided.  Then you can rock spin, splat, wavewheel and kickflip your way down the river too!

Trip Details

A Typical Paddling Day

Your clinic will meet at our base in Charlemont, Ma. at 9:00 AM.   The clinic will start on time, so please be prompt.  Complimentary hot drinks will be available upon your arrival. Your clinic will come to an end at about 5:00 PM.

On most clinics you will spend the morning on flatwater learning or fine tuning paddling strokes. In the afternoon, you will usually paddle a section of whitewater. Because these are instructional clinics, your instructors will be encouraging you to push your physical and mental limits.

The number of students in your clinic may vary.  We have a maximum student-to-instructor ratio of 4:1 and a maximum clinic size of 12 students.

You will be spending somewhere between four to five hours in your boat.  To prepare you will want to stretch your thighs hamstrings and torso (back, stomach, shoulders and neck). If you increase your flexibility, you will have more efficient strokes, and you will be more comfortable in your boat. 


What should I wear?

While some of the flatwater areas we use are quite warm in June, July and August, the Deerfield River is always cool, regardless of the time of year or air temperature. When packing your paddling clothes, please plan accordingly, especially if you are coming early or late in the season (April, May, September and October). Our clinics will run rain or shine.

Wear items such as :

  • synthetic long underwear, garments made of plypropylene, capilene, or some polyester/spandex blend.
  • fleece or wool socks
  • bathing suit
  • fleece or wool jacket/sweater (early/late season or if you tend to chill easily)

Other items to bring.

  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • retaining strap for glasses
  • nose plugs
  • towel
  • required medications
  • extra money for snacks, t-shirts, or coin operated showers.

Zoar Outdoor will provide:

  •  boat
  •  wetsuit
  •  paddle jacket
  •  booties
  •  life jacket
  •  helmet
  •  paddle
  •  sprayskirt

We provide a catered picnic-style lunch on all our clinics.  Typical lunches include homemade rolls, sliced turkey, ham or other meats, sliced cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, chips, salsa, hummus, pasta or other salad, cookies or other dessert and hot and cold drinks.  

The following statement is required by state law: "Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy."

We do not use nuts in our food, but can not guarantee that the ingredients in our meals do not contain nuts or other food allergens. If you have food allergies or other special dietary needs, we strongly suggest you bring your own bag lunch in non-glass containers and we will pack it with the other lunches on your trip. Please inform our office at 800 532-7483 or info@zoaroutdoor.com if you intend to do this.

(If you own your own equipment, we suggest you use it in the clinic to get used to its quirks.)

Getting Here

From Boston:

  • Take Route 2 west. Where Route 2 merges with Interstate 91 in Greenfield, take 91 south, but be sure to exit again onto Route 2 west at the next exit (exit 26).
  • Zoar Outdoor is about 17 miles west of this exit. We’re based in a red colonial on the north side of the road. Look for the blue, white and green sign.
  • Driving time from downtown approximately 2 1/2 hours.

From New York City:

  • Take Interstate 95 north to Interstate 91 north.
  • Take exit 26 in Massachusetts and follow Route 2 west for about 17 miles. We’re based in a red colonial on the north side of the road. Look for the blue, white and green sign.
  • Driving time from Manhattan approximately 3 1/2 - 4 hours, depending upon traffic.

From Albany, New York:

  • Take Route 2 east through North Adams.
  • Continue past North Adams and over the mountain, about 20 miles. Our base is the red house on the north side of Route 2 on the western outskirts of the town center. Look for the blue, white and green sign.
  • Driving time approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Additional Information

Shop Discount

At the start of your clinic you will get two shop discount cards good for two weeks from the date of your clinic. One card entitles you to 10% off accessories in our Outfitters Shop. The second card entitles you to a $50.00 discount off a boat purchase. All boat purchases come with free outfitting and 10% off accessories in the Outfitters Shop for the next year.

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