Whether it be fighting rapids or just drifting down a quiet river, the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club and Outdoor Chattanooga want to make it safe and enjoyable for everyone.
The two organizations will join efforts for an annual paddle school June 1-3. It is designed for whitewater and flatwater enthusiasts of all levels.
"All the classes will be at a different pace," said Jen Shearer, vice president of the TVCC.
Students and instructors will be camping out June 1 at the Outdoor Adventure Rafting campground near the Ocoee River. The actual water training will be on the Hiwassee River and Parksville Lake.
Children must be at least 8 years old to take part.
Everyone attending will select one of six classes: beginner, beginner/intermediate or intermediate whitewater kayak/canoe, alternate whitewater boat, sea kayak or the Rapid Learning Kids Club. Sea kayaking is new and will be on the lake, Shearer said.
Chattanooga Outdoors will be conducting the kids club classes. According to Terri Chapin, OC's recreation program coordinator, students 8 to 18 years old will be divided into two groups based on their skill levels.
"There are not any prerequisites to the school," Chapin said, "but you are going to get more out of the paddle school by attending our roll and wet exit classes and familiarizing yourself with the boats."
Outdoor Chattanooga has been holding its roll and wet exit classes on Tuesday evenings at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Maclellan Gym pool. Starting next Tuesday, the roll classes will move to the rock quarry at Greenway Farm in Hixson.
"We are just trying to get more people out on the water," Chapin said.
Uwe Zitzow, a TVCC member for more than 30 years and one of the paddle school instructors, said he will be working with beginner and intermediate students in solo canoeing.
"We generally want to start everyone off in flat water and then move to swifter water," he said.
Zitzow said that on the Saturday of the school, the students would canoe about six miles from the Hiwassee River railroad bridge down to an area near U.S. Highway 411, and depending on the group, they would paddle the next day downstream from near the TVA Apalachia Powerhouse and back to the railroad bridge.
"We want to make sure that you do it safely and that you have fun," he said.
Attendees will be treated to a welcome dinner after checking in Friday evening and then selecting their boat equipment for the two days of open-water canoe or kayaking instructions.
The water classes will begin with a mandatory safety talk Saturday morning, and the rest of the day and all day Sunday will be spent in the water. Students can participate in a canoe jousting tournament on Saturday night. Using jousting poles, participants stand in separate canoes and attempt to tip over their opponents.
The TVCC's gear auction will follow the jousting event and dinner. Supplies and equipment for the auction will be donated from area canoe and kayak outfitters.
"Last year the number of students was up about 10 percent. We hope to have about 225 people this year," Shearer said.
An annual $20 membership fee for the TVCC is required for the school, plus $45 for the classes. The rental of canoes or kayaks is an additional fee.
The registration deadline is May 20.
The TVCC, which Shearer said began in 1967, also holds canoe and kayaking training trips throughout the year, as well as overnight canoe camping trips in the area.
Additional information about the school and the club can be found at www.tvccpaddler.com.