Canoe Workshop


Course Syllabus







Department of Sport Science & Physical Education, Idaho State University

Canoeing IdahoSUMMARY


Course: Canoe Workshop (PE 4491 / 5491)


Semesters: Summer

Times: Workshop held in the field for several days - check schedule for dates


Where: Rivers in Idaho


Instructor: Ron Watters






The course begins the first night with a general overview of canoeing, including its cultural history, canoe design, types of paddles, and related canoe equipment.


The course will resume the following morning. We will view canoeing technique videos and then move to a nearby lake to work on flat-water technique. Specific skills taught include both American Red Cross and Indian Canoeing styles. The inclusion of the Indian style is particularly apropos in our area since its national advocate was the late Pierre Pulling, Professor Emeritus at Idaho State University. Students will have the opportunity to experiment with both styles and choose the one most suitable for their needs.

Canoe Camping

On Saturday and Sunday, an overnight river trip will be taken on the Bear or Snake River. The trip will provide an opportunity for participants to learn and practice in moving water and canoe camping skills. climbing experience.





The Sports Science and Physical Education Department’s Outdoor Education curriculum at Idaho State is based on a foundation of five nationally recognized standards.  The following standard applies to this course:  


Standard #5  Outdoor Education Experiential Skills and Field Experience Outdoor educators understand the techniques, equipment and safety procedures associated with a variety of outdoor skills; have taken ample opportunity to learn, practice and refine outdoor skills; and have gained practical experience in leading outdoor activities and/or teaching outdoor skills.



Objective 1 (Academic Objective): To gain an understanding of the history of canoeing, the evolution of canoe design, and the function and use of accessory equipment. 

Objective 1 Learning Outcomes - By the end of the course, students will:

1a. Have an understanding of the development of the canoe from ancient times to the present, including how canoe design has changed over the years, and the progression of materials used in canoe construction.
1b. Understand the function of and the use of canoeing equipment such as bent and straight shaft paddles, bow and stern lines, waterproof bags, and portaging aids.
1c. Be able to demonstrate the proper use of canoeing safety equipment including protective clothing, life jackets, and throw ropes.

Objective 2 (Academic Objective):  To develop an appreciation and understanding of the safety procedures involved with canoing and an overview of stream flow hydraulics.

Objective 2 Learning Outcomes – By the end of the course, students will:

2a.  Understand the risks associated with cold water, the procedures to minimize and prevent cold water problems, and treatment of cold related injuries.
2b.  Be able to identify common river hazards including strainers, obstructions, and hydraulics, and know the procedures in avoiding these hazards.
2c.  Have an understanding of the direction and force of river current flow based on river morphology, river gradient, and obstacles such as boulders, ledges, and rock bars.

Objective 3 (Motor Skill Objective):  To develop basic motor skills in canoeing

Objective 3 Learning Outcomes – By the end of the course, students will:


3a.  Know how to properly lift and portage canoes.
3b.  Be able to execute efficient paddling strokes including forward, reverse, draw and J-strokes
3c.  Understand the fundamentals of canoeing in moving water: turning in and out of eddies, boat positioning for curves and corners, and avoiding of rocks and obstacles.
3d.  Have the opportunity to practice paddling, turning, moving in and out of eddies on an overnight river trip


Grades for this course are determined by using a point system.  The final grade is reached by adding points from three components:

Total Number of Points Possible:  200 pts




A text is not required, but some of you may be interested where to paddle in Idaho. You can find more information here: Guide to Idaho Paddling. Other information on paddling in Idaho is found on the Idaho Paddler's Website.




This class does require physical effort and you should be physically able to paddle a canoe most of the day.  In addition to paddling you will also be portgaging a canoe over uneven terrain. 




If you have a diagnosed disability or believe that you have a disability that might require “reasonable accommodation” on the part of the instructor, please call the Director, ADA & Disabilities Resource Center, 282-3599.  As a part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is the responsibility of the student to disclose a disability prior to requesting reasonable accommodation.




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