Get Kids Paddling – Our 2021 Put In

Eight years ago, April 2013, discussions began which led to Get Kids Paddling. (See some of the history below.*)

Last year about this time, in response to the unresolved Nicholas Mills trial, and the new Covid-19 pandemic, we re-organized.

Throughout 2020, our working groups continued to study the many issues around paddling in schools. In addition, we developed a stunning visual entitled Why Paddle? Why Canoe Trip? which has been well received.

Surveys were developed that went across Canada searching out locations where paddling programs were available for kids, as well as attempting to initiate a national dialogue. The website was activated; a pilot project training Basic Instructors was begun; discussions with PC, ORCKA, CKQ and RCABC took place.

In the last two months we’ve been refining our Vision, Mission and Pillars statements, and have been studying the pros and cons of incorporation.

In the upcoming year, we are going to need more help. We’ll especially need people who like working with communities; others who are interested in statistics; and, of course, those who want to get kids paddling.  Please consider joining us. 

Next Tuesday, April 27, at 7 pm, we will have a presentation by Cadets Canada**. That presentation is part of our exploration of programs currently available for kids across Canada that can lead to paddling.

Immediately after the Cadets presentation we will be have the regularly scheduled April meeting of the GKP Committee.

If you would like to attend the Cadets presentation, and possibly audit the Committee meeting, please respond to

There are only 70 spots available.

If you are interested in becoming a GKP committee member, write me at

Finally, as we continue to cope with Covid-19 and its variants, the climate crisis, and increasing civil unrest, especially south of the border, we do have the luxury of time to plan a hopeful future for our kids.

Best wishes.

Dave Goldman

Chair, Get Kids Paddling

A Brief History of GKP

In 2013, ORCKA had a spring retreat at Mono Mills, Ontario, that I attended. There I met John Burton from the Bluewater School Board, who was really concerned about the increasing amount of paperwork needed to take classes tripping. Phil Matsushita a school principal from the Durham Board joined us at the time and our discussions are still going on. We met at Phil’s school in Pickering in the autumns of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, drawing in increasing numbers of concerned teachers. 

I began a survey of the 72 school boards in Ontario to get a handle on the situation. John approached OPHEA with the idea of removing the NLS, and brought along Dale Radin of ORCKA and Graham Ketcheson of PC. OPHEA agreed to remove the NLS.

In November of 2017 we had a Rendezvous at Phil’s new school in Liverpool drawing over 70 attendees and generating a lot of energy. On July 4, 2017, however, Jeremiah Perry drowned on a TDSB school trip to Algonquin Park.

In November, 2018 we held Rendezvous 2. More attendees. Glenda Hanna on insurance opened a number of eyes.

The 2019 Rendezvous didn’t take place, mainly because of the repercussions and uncertainty arising from the 2017 drowning of Jeremiah Perry, and the lack of closure by the continuous postponement of the Nicholas Mills trial.

And then of course, Covid-19.

In the last year discussion has been more broadly focussed on getting all kids paddling not just kids in secondary schools. Originally GKP had focussed on paddling in secondary schools and had been successful in removing OPHEA’S NLS requirement that was hindering trips from happening. That was short-lived.

In 2020, our think tank steering committee has used its time sharing perspectives (visual), reaching out across Canada (survey), connecting (PC/CKQ,+), and piloting some new endeavours (BI course). And broadening beyond schools. Exploring.

Cadets Canada

Come learn about the oldest and largest youth program in Canada. This presentation will be a general overview of Cadets Canada programs and a specific presentation on the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and the Expedition programs they operate.  Cadets Canada is supported by the Department of National Defense and has approx 54 000 youth enrolled and 7800 adult staff. Cadet Canada operates in all parts of Canada with over 1200 individual units/squadrons located in over 800 communities. The presentation will be approximately 20 minutes long with a Q&A afterwards. 

The objective is to give everyone an understanding about the Cadets Canada program and more detail on the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and their expedition programs and training. We will also be discussing what help the program needs to get more youth out paddling and tripping.

If you have any questions that you wish to have answered please send them to us so we can compile a list of questions to be answered. 

Please let us know if you wish to attend this presentation via email and also indicate if you would like to stay around to find out more about Get Kids Paddling and how you might support our efforts.

December 2020 Update from Get Kids Paddling

Hello again!

Our planning teams have been very busy over the past few months and we are very pleased to share some of their efforts. 

We’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts. Write us.


Below is a survey asking WHERE paddling instruction is available for kids in Canada.

We hope that its results might lead to a national registry, or at least the beginnings of one. Results will be published on this website.

The survey also asks respondents to consider engaging in a national dialogue. Those discussions may result in sharing good practices, and assistance, right across Canada. What great opportunities for promoting kids’ paddling!

Please help by forwarding the survey to paddling organizations, companies and instructors you know.


Together with Erica Bota from ThinkLink GraphicsGet Kids Paddling has produced an exciting visual to capture a 2-hour discussion where 7 people spoke openly about their paddling experiences, primarily on canoe trips.

Click the image below to view, download, and share a higher-resolution version of the illustration displaying how Erica captured the conversation.

Feel free to share this graphic widely. Did it resonate with you? Tell us. 


Our Schools Committee is wrestling with many factors regarding school paddling programs, a major one being risk management.

Bob Henderson has shared one of his recent pieces entitled A Case for School Canoe Trips: Rethinking Risk 

And check out Bob’s blog website HERE, especially, Thoughts and Admittedly a Bit of a Rant on the Wilderness Superhero “Look at Me” Adventure Narrative.

Finally for now – Happy Holidays, stay safe, and don’t forget to write. You can do that by sending us a message through the comment section for this post- or reach out to us directly through our contact page.

Ready, Fire, Aim…

Hello again!

This is the first posting from our new Blog on the refurbished GKP website. It is being sent to over 400 of you who have been joining us since 2013. It’s been a long time coming and we’re excited! 

We will share with you what we are doing and what our plans are, AND we always want your input and feedback. 

As we continue to live through Covid-19, Climate Change, the US election and economic destabilization, the thought of making plans to get kids paddling may seem frivolous. 

We think otherwise.

If paddling and the backcountry have been important parts of our lives, is there some reason they should not be held in the same regard for today’s generation of kids?  

Besides, with what’s happening right now, there is more time to think and plan and collaborate. We can meet inexpensively, and we have access to some of the finest minds around. 

Over the summer our Steering Committee has been considering how to get kids paddling. And what a lot of kids there are!  Currently, there are 4.2 million Canadians between the ages of 10 and 19! Enough to go around.  

An update of the past 6 months

One crew will soon be canvassing across Canada to find out what organizations and individuals offer paddling instruction for kids. We intend to publish that list on the GKP website. Send us your information if this applies to you, and/or send us organizations that you know of that offer instruction. 

We also want to engage in discussions with all those offering instruction so we can share ideas right across Canada. Who knows what could come from this kind of collaboration?

Another crew is focussing on school paddling programs in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, BC and the Territories. In the past, school programs have been outstanding for introducing kids to the Canadian outdoors. In recent years, restrictions have been strangling. We hope to identify, address and correct many of the issues. 

We’ve heard of some school programs that did take place in 2020. If you know of any, let us know. Also let us know of schools, boards and leaders in your part of the country that have made paddling happen.

And then there’s the WHY of it all. Why is it important to you to get kids paddling?  I’ve already shared my rationale on the website. We want to hear from all of you who want to share your thinking, and will publish all that is sent to us. And why? Because what you say may help others express what they are thinking.

We will share the research we are gathering. To what end?  To help us build the needed arguments to bolster our cause when we have to deal with others who don’t understand, or who are afraid.

There is more in the works. Later.

Our website is becoming more functional. It has always contained great resources regarding trip preparation and background information.

Please share this website with others and encourage them to join us by signing up. You sign up too.

And think about joining us by offering your help. There’s plenty of freeboard.

Best wishes.

Dave Goldman, Chair

Get Kids Paddling