Outdoor Chattanooga's kayak classes moving to Brainerd pool

Outdoor Chattanooga's kayak classes moving to Brainerd pool

December 27th, 2012 by Ron Bush in Sports - Outdoors

Participants in Outdoor Chattanooga's Rapid Learning kayak roll class raise their paddles during a summer trip on the Hiwassee River.

The Rapid Learning roll program is rolling with the punch.

When Outdoor Chattanooga's kayaking instruction resumes in two weeks, it will be at a new site on a new evening. With the indoor pool at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Maclellan Gymnasium in need of repair that will take a while, the Rapid Learning winter sessions will be held at the Brainerd Recreation Center from 6 to 7 and from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. That starts Jan. 9.

The sessions normally have been held on Tuesdays.

"Rapid Learning lost its winter home," said Ruthie Thompson, Outdoor Chattanooga's events/marketing coordinator, "so we looked in our own back yard with the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department. The indoor pool at the Brainerd center was available but not on Tuesdays, so we've moved the classes to Wednesdays.

"The program really has been growing under Terri Chapin's direction," Thompson said Wednesday. "We have about 150 yearly members -- families and individuals -- and we typically have 25 to 30 people at a session."

The classes began as part of Parks and Recreation's old OutVenture program.

Chapin, who directed Girls Preparatory School's outdoors program for a decade, has been on the OC staff for about three years and became full-time this past summer as recreation programs coordinator, Thompson noted.

Chapin and the other full-timer teaching kayaking, Trevor Childress, "both have a lot of experience and a lot of passion for the sport," Chapin said. "We put a lot of energy into it, so the word of mouth about the program has been strong, I think.

"We are nationally certified as instructors by the American Canoe Association, and we both have traveled the world kayaking."

The Rapid Learning program costs $50 per year, $75 per families, and that covers the necessary equipment. Kayakers providing their own gear can attend for $5 per session, and everyone's first visit is free. Anyone ages 6 and older can take part.

The adaptive kayaking program for people with physical or cognitive disabilities also is moving to the Brainerd center on Wednesdays, and those classes will be held weekly at 5 p.m. instead of once a month. Every other week, Jan. 13 and 20 in the first month, those will be specifically for disabled veterans, thanks to a grant from U.S. Paralympics, according to Elaine Adams, the city's therapeutic recreation coordinator.

There is no cost for the adaptive classes, Adams noted.

For everyone, Chapin emphasized, "This is a great time to start learning. Kayaking is a great way to have fun in these hot summers, and rivers take you a lot of places.

"People who decide they don't want the high-action adventure of whitewater can still use the lessons learned for flatwater paddling. And in addition to the skills and drills and safety measures we provide, we host trips to give people a chance to put them to use."