Paddle Sports are Amazing!

canoeing at sunrise
My favorite canoeing picture—northeast Minnesota (courtesy of my daughter, Jamie Mayes)

Since just over 70% of our planet is covered with water, it’s only natural that people have come up with ways to travel on it. Those same ways give us great recreation opportunities too. Or we can combine our recreation with traveling and have some pretty amazing trips.

Who Paddles?

The 2015 Special Report on Paddle Sports (the latest one published by The Outdoor Foundation) says 21.7 million Americans participate in paddle sports at least once in 2014. That includes canoeing, kayaking, rafting and stand-up paddle boarding.

That’s about 7.4% of the population. Lots of people—but plenty of room for growth!

One of the best things we can do to add to those numbers is invite someone along with us who hasn’t paddled before.

According to the Paddle Sports report, we need to do a much better job expanding paddling beyond Caucasians. Only 18% of canoeists and 20% of kayakers are non-white (as of 2014—maybe it’s better now).

Let’s get others out on the water so they can experience these activities, too! It’s healthy, it’s fun, it gets us out in nature. And if you don’t have your own boats, rentals are widely available. A quick online search will bring up rental options near you.

kayaking two medicine lake, glacier
Kayaking on Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park

Kayaking is the most popular form of paddling in the US, with canoeing taking the second spot, followed by stand-up paddle boarding.

Paddling is Therapeutic

Having lived in the upper Midwest all my life, and Minnesota for the past four decades, I grew up swimming and paddling. I still love to be on the water, especially in a canoe. It feels like home.

I don’t know what it is about being on the water, especially sitting close to it like we do in these smaller crafts. It’s so therapeutic!

And using a paddle instead of a motor makes the experience gloriously quiet. We get to listen to the sounds around us…and don’t have to smell gasoline either 🙂

One very cool thing: There are growing numbers of organizations that use paddling in their work with people with disabilities and with military veterans, first responders and others battling PTSD.

Paddle sports—canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding—are amazing!

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