Adaptive Paddling Workshop (September 14-17, 2023)

Anyone can attend this American Canoe Association adaptive paddling workshop (APW), which has been taught across the country since 1990 and at Bay Cliff since 1998. This course brings together certified instructors, recreational paddlers, and people with physical disabilities to promote recreational paddling opportunities for persons with disabilities.

The 4-day course for endorsement candidates includes on-water and classroom instruction and interactive learning with paddlers with disabilities. Learn what disabilities are, how to work with people with disabilities, what adaptive equipment is available, and how to adapt paddles, boats, and rescue techniques. Participate in real-time instruction with a student, which involves making adaptations, a pool session, and an outdoor paddling session. In addition, instructors will have an opportunity to update paddling skills and practice rescue techniques. This is a great workshop for certified paddlesports instructors, but instructor certification is not required. Recreational paddlers are welcome as well. Paddling experience is required.

Paddlers with physical disabilities who want to learn how to kayak can attend this workshop as student participants FREE of charge! Students attend the last two days of the workshop and participate in adaptation development and paddlesports instruction with instructors. Skills are practiced in a pool and then in an outdoor setting. No prior experience is required.

Questions and Answers

Who can attend?

Anyone with an interest in paddling! Instructor participants are individuals with interest/experience in kayaking and/or canoeing. Instructor certification not necessarily required. Paddling experience is required. Student participants are people with physical disabilities who want to learn to paddle. Students attend only on the last two days of the workshop.

Is lodging available?

Room and board is available at Bay Cliff (the workshop site). This includes lodging and meals for the 4-day course. Student participants (paddlers with disabilities) stay free. Other lodging can be found around the Big Bay area.

What equipment will I need?

Instructors will need a kayak (must have acceptable flotation), paddle, spray skirt for kayak, PFD, wetsuit, and paddling clothing. Instructors may also bring extra of the above equipment to share with the student participants (paddlers with disabilities).

Kayak equipment is provided for students.

How do I register?

If you are interested in attending the APW, contact Colleen McKay at or 906-345-9314. Fill out both the registration form and health history form and send to Bay Cliff Health Camp – PO Box 310 – Big Bay, MI 49808 or Registrations are accepted through August 15th, 2023.

Apply now

“When I injured my spinal cord… I was left with paraplegia. I would now have to do some of my favorite activities from a wheelchair. Basketball, softball, and backpacking are not the same sports that they were before my injury. Canoeing, however, is exactly the same sport it was before my injury. I have to take a different route to the water, and adapt my seating, but the sport has not changed. The first time after my injury that I paddled with my daughters, my older daughter smiled at me from the bow. It was a smile I’ll never forget.” – Tom