Intermediate Kayaking
Summer Workshop


Course Syllabus










(PE 4491/PE 5591)


Department of Sports Science & Physical Education - Idaho State University




Course: Intermediate Kayaking Workshop (PE 4491 / PE 5591)

Semester: Summer Semester


Time:  Usually early to mid June - check schedule for exact dates

Kayak & Paddle
Place: Course begins in Reed Gym Pool and then is held on several nearby rivers


Instructor:  Dana Olson





The Kayakers Handbook (which is free to all students enrolled in the course) will be provided.  This complimentary resource to the class includes information on the following topics:           



“Combines practical field experience in moving water with a study of river safety and accident prevention. Topics include hazard evaluation, self and team rescue, case history review, and whitewater safety procedures.”



The Sports Science and Physical Education Department’s Outdoor Education curriculum at Idaho State is based on a foundation of five national recognized standards.  The following standards apply to this course:  Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), Standard 3 (Safety and Minimal Impact), and Standard 5 (Experiential Skill and Field Experience).



Kayak Activity Definition: Whitewater kayaking can take several forms.  It can be a fun and enjoyable recreational activity on nearby streams and rivers, a means of travelling through the backcountry, and a competitive sport.  The type of rivers on which whitewater kayaking take place range from simple, carefree streams and rivers with little to no rapids to creeks with steep drops or  rivers with whitewater rapids.  This course is primarily oriented to the recreational form of kayaking.  It will help provide you with the basic skills and knowledge to get started in kayaking, and from there you can take it any direction you desire.


Kayak Surfing

Kayak History Summary:   The use of floating craft on rivers, lakes and oceans is as old as the Stone Age.  The raft, the catamaran, the canoe and the kayak evolved depending on the needs and environment of indigenous people throughout the world.  The modern day kayak most likely originated about 8,000 years ago along the Siberian coast by the Yupik people and then went through a transformation by the Aleut and Inuit from open canoe to the enclosed kayak as we know it.  In simplest terms, all the ethnic groups of the polar region are called Eskimos and their means of conveyance on water are Eskimo kayaks/canoes.

More recent developments include the following:


1905:   Alfred Heurich, an architectural student from Germany invented the folding kayak called Folboat and which he use to paddle over 62,000 miles on rivers and lakes.


1907:   Alfred Klepper improved the rigidity of the Folboat and started mass production.  He created a paddle craft that for the first time in human history allowed hardy enthusiasts to see wild rivers and canyons never before seen by the human eye.  Klepper’s boats were affordable, easy to travel with and suitable for whitewater river.


1920:   Edi Hans Pawlata reintroduced the Eskimo Roll. (The Eskimos, of course, had been rolling kayaks for centuries.)


1955:   Herbert Baschin built the first fiberglass kayaks.  Despite the much improved maneuverability, Baschin’s hard shell was received with skepticism by European paddling enthusiasts who were in love with their folboats and depended on public transportation.  The catalyst for changing this attitude in Europe came when owning an automobile became affordable.  The hard shell kayak was easily transported to rivers and remote launching sites that were not accessible before. In the late 1960s interest in whitewater kayaking spread from Europe to the U.S. and other parts of the world.


1973:   Tom Johnson designed and marketed the first roto-molded polyethylene boat called the Hollowform.  Paddlers no longer had to worry about repairing fragile fiberglass boats after trips.  Because of the durability of the boats, techniques were even developed by which rocks could be used as part of the strategy of negotiating rapids.  Difficult white water became more accessible to less-skilled paddlers.


1980:   The Prijon company introduced polyethylene boats to the European market. Whitewater kayaks, up to this time, were 13 feet long, the same length as required for competitive slalom racing.  Holger Machatschek developed the first 7.2 foot-long playboat called Topolino.  This revitalized the sport, creating many new and exciting possibilities from surfing waves in rapids to exploring new rivers.


Kayak Philosophy Summary:   Kayaking on whitewater rivers combines challenge, athleticism, excitement, and problem solving.  Rivers are dynamic, involving a mix of quiet and fast water and variable currents, some of which flow upstream.  Even on a fairly simple level, rivers demand a constant awareness on the part of a kayaker to react to their changing moods and temperament.  This interplay of physical and mental effort, all of which takes place in a healthy outdoor environment, makes the sport of kayaking an immensely satisfying and rewarding activity.


The first three weeks will be in the Reed Gym Pool, but because kayaking is ultimately an outdoor activity, the fourth week, if conditions allow, the class will go the Aberdeen Springfield canal for a moving water experience.  The weekend river trip, usually on the Bear River, trip allows students to apply the skills they’ve learned on a flowing river.  The course is designed to help students develop skills, form an appreciation for safety, and gain an understanding of kayaking history and equipment.  The following value statements help guide course strategy:


The fundamentals of kayaking will be taught in this course through a carefully selected sequence of skills, starting with the most basic:

To assure maximum opportunity for learning, a pre-planned semester course schedule will be followed which takes students through a progressive series of steps.  (The course schedule is reproduced below.)  Note that the course schedule may be adapted to facilitate individual differences in learning abilities.

New techniques will be introduced and demonstrated to help reduce the risk of injury.

All interested students are welcomed in this course, no matter what their ability.  Whenever possible, personal attention will be provided to enhance learning.

Kayaking has inherent risks, and in the interest of safety, students are asked to follow class rules.  Anyone not adhering to the rules will be asked to leave class.

Near the end of the course, an assessment of the skills learned in the course will be administered.

Academic materials and lecture subject matter will be evaluated by the use of a written final exam.

The course is taught in a way which allows students to gain an appreciation of whitewater kayaking, and physical activity in general, as a healthy and viable lifetime recreational activity.

An optional weekend trip is offered which introduces students to the river environment and opens the door for future satisfying recreational experiences in the outdoors.



Intermediate Kayaking combines practical field experience in moving water with a study of river safety and accident prevention.  Topics include hazard evaluation, self and team rescue, and whitewater safety procedures.


Objective 1 (Academic Objective): To gain a better understanding of the inherent risks and accident prevention of whitewater kayaking.   

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

1a. Have read at least three different accident reports from the American Canoe Association River Safety Reports prepared by Charles Walbridge. 
1b. Written a paper comparing at least three river accidents.


Objective 2 (Motor Skill Objective):  To build upon the basic boat handling skills learned in the beginning kayak class. 

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

2a. Be able to execute efficient paddling strokes including forward, reverse, regular draw, sculling draw, bow draw and stern draw.
2b. Refine the Eskimo roll with the ultimate goal of developing a reliable pool/river roll, and to learn the roll on the opposite side.
2c. Refine high bracing systems to add the sculling and low brace systems to the arsenal.
2d .Develop a variety of  paddling strategies for eddy turns including high and low braces, bow draw and Duffek,
2e. Develop a variety of paddling tools for ferries and surfing strategies such as the stern draw and sideslip.

Objective 3 (Motor Objective):  To develop an appreciation and understanding of river dynamics and safety procedures involved in whitewater kayaking by taking skills learned to a practical field experience in moving water.

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

3a. Be able to identify and avoid (if necessary) common river hazards while floating the river.  Hazards include strainers, dams, weirs, ledges, reversals, holes, and hydraulics.
3b. Be able to use the river current to assist the kayaker down the river by utilizing features within the river to negotiate the river.  Features include, bends in the river, rocks, river banks, islands, etc.  Boat positioning through the use of eddy turns and ferrying will be emphasized.  
3c. Be able to identify when one should scout a section of river from land and when one could boat scout from the water. 
3d. Understand and utilize kayaking groups procedures including spacing of boats and methods to maintain contact and communication between kayakers.



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



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, Center of Services for Students with Disabilities, 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. 



Kayakers Having Fun: Waving Feet



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