Welcome to Abenaki Aquatic Club and our PaddleALL Program! We are so excited to have you join us on Bell Lake this summer and can’t wait to share some smiles with you. In 2020, Abenaki celebrated 50 years of paddling and fun. With our new PaddleALL program, we can finally share our sport with even more members in our community and give them the chance to paddle! ANY BOAT, ANY BODY.
What is Paddle-All at Abenaki?
Paddle-All is a project introduced by Canoe/Kayak Canada. It is a program aimed at promoting participation in the sport of sprint Canoe/Kayak for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Recreational and sprint canoes and kayaks are used to introduce paddlers with intellectual and physical disabilities to the sport. The program includes a safety orientation, technical instruction, and instruction by experienced coaches.
Frequently asked questions
What age is the program for?
Ages 5 & up
How many coaches and mentors are there?
The goal with this program will be to pair participants with a “paddling partner”. Younger participants will be matched with our senior aged paddlers (aged 14+). Young adults or those who require specialized support will be matched with a qualified coach. Those participants who demonstrate that they are confident will possibly be placed in a small group setting with 1 or 2 coaches leading them through games, activities and practices on the water.
Will kids paddle with adults?
As we see our registration and interest we will look more into age demographics. If numbers allow then we will offer a PaddleALL Junior group specific to kids under 12 and a young adult group for those over 12 yrs.
What do participants need to supply?
Nothing! This program will be offered free of charge and Abenaki will supply all equipment necessary.
Participants should wear clothing that can get wet and bring a towel or change of clothes in case they need to dry off. Participants should also bring a snack and water bottle as paddling can be quite a workout.
What do participants need to supply?
Nothing! This program will be offered free of charge and Abenaki will supply all equipment necessary. Participants should wear clothing that can get wet and bring a towel or change of clothes in case they need to dry off. Participants should also bring a snack and water bottle as paddling can be quite a workout.
What days & times will the program be offered?
Days/Times have not been confirmed yet. We will likely offer 2 evening options and a weekend morning option (depending on registration numbers).
When is registration?
Registration for this program will take place in May. It will be done online and advertised on our website and social media.
Can siblings paddle too?
No. This program will be offered specifically to those with an intellectual disability. Our staff and volunteers will receive specialized training and guidance for this program. Family members are encouraged to watch and support from the shore.
Is there a place to change etc?
Yes! We have bathrooms on site and a changing room.
What happens in bad weather?
We will still run our program rain, fog or shine! This is a water sport so participants should come prepared to get wet. Only in thunder/lightning is the program postposed.
My name is Scott Letchford and I will be the Head PaddleALL coach this summer! I am currently a 3rd year Kinesiology student at Dalhousie University. I have been a paddler for 11 years and started off paddling at Abenaki Aquatic Club. For the last 3 years I have paddled competitively at a national level at Senobe Aquatic Club while coaching at Abenaki. Last summer I volunteered with another PaddleALL program, while building the foundation for the one we are introducing at Abenaki.
For the PaddleALL program, we will have a recreational group where the athletes will be able to go out and have a fun time paddling at their leisure with trained “buddies”, as well as a group that will have structured practices for those who wish to race competitively. I will be taking the lead with the competitive PaddleALL group and will help oversee the recreational aspect as well. For the competitive group, in addition to training, our goal is to have them compete for fun in a regatta this summer against some other clubs in Atlantic Division (ADCKC). Both the recreational and competitive groups can expect to have volunteers taking part in making sure everyone has a lot of fun and support during their practice times.
Can’t wait to meet you all this summer!
" Having the chance to work one-on-one and sharing my love for the water and kayaking is something I look forward to every single week.
— Maddy Hamilton
Abenaki is a competitive and recreational paddling club (canoe and kayak). We are the only club on Bell Lake, so our paddlers and swimmers don’t have to share the lake with anyone. During the day, we offer practices to different age groups of paddlers, and it can be pretty busy with hundreds of kids on the lake and on the beach. With that in mind, we will host the PaddleALL practices in the evenings and possibly weekend mornings when we can have the property pretty much to ourselves.
Abenaki has a clubhouse and boathouse with partially accessible washrooms and some change rooms. We have an onsite basketball court, sandy beach and multiple docks. Although we have a parking area with designated spots, there is still a gravel hill to navigate, so that is something to keep in mind.
Participants aged 5+ will be welcome to register. Depending on registration numbers, we can’t guarantee that your child will be paddling with someone the same age, but we will do our best to have groups of paddlers 12 and under and groups for those over 12.
All equipment used in our dry land and on water practices will be provided to paddlers by the club. We have PFD’s, paddles, kayaks and canoes specifically for the Paddle-All program.
We recommend that you bring a towel, change of clothes, proper footwear and snack/drink. Remember that your paddler will probably get wet, so make sure to dress them appropriately.
Coaches and Volunteers
Our plan is to have enough trained experienced coaches to run our practices under the direction of the Paddle-All Head Coach. For paddlers who need a little more supervision, our plans are to provide 1:1 coaching. For those participants who are more confident, we may have a coach take on a very small group for both the paddling and dry land training.
⦁ All of our coaches have their Coaching qualifications
⦁ We plan to have a Certified Lifeguard trained in CPR, as well as a Safety Boat operator on site during on water practices.
⦁ All Volunteers will have their Police Background Checks up to date.
⦁ Unfortunately, siblings will not be allowed to paddle at the same time due to equipment restrictions.
What you can expect once you register:
During Registration, we will provide you with a medical/information questionnaire where we will ask you to provide a bit of information specific to your child. As everyone is unique, we want to make sure we make our program specific to your participant! Please take this opportunity to tell us all about your amazing paddler. It will help us find the perfect coaching match and help us have the right size of equipment ready.
We will then be in touch with available dates and times and set up an orientation day. During Orientation, we will review our safety measures, offer a tour, and review rules that all paddlers and families must adhere to for the safety of all.
Safety First AT ALL TIMES!
⦁ PFD’s MUST be worn by everyone on the water at all times and must be left on until
they are out of the boat on the dock.
⦁ Participants may NOT go past the swim dock until there is a safety boat on the water.
We will do our best to accommodate all intellectual disabilities, and will work with their abilities. As an example, a child with Down Syndrome would benefit from some strengthening exercise in addition to on the water paddling. A child with ADHD may enjoy a bit of an obstacle course as dry land training before heading out onto the water. We will work with you to make sure we offer the best program for your paddler. Once on the water, your paddler will have a chance to experience kayaking and canoeing in single and team boats. We will start with small paddles and let your paddler’s confidence dictate how far they want to venture out onto the lake! A safety boat will be on the water whenever paddlers are on the water to help any possible tippers!
As the summer progresses, we may have a discussion as to whether your paddler is happy staying in a recreational track, or if they have a competitive drive. ADCKC offers fun regattas in the summer where competition between other clubs takes place. Additionally there are National level competitions that may be an option to participate in.
The Special Olympics offers canoe and kayak racing and may be something that can be looked into in the future.
Parents/Caregivers will be required to stay on the property while practice is in session.
There are number of good spots to set up a beach chair and watch/cheer on your paddler!
We look forward to meeting you and your paddler!
If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact:
Program Coordinator & Club Commodore
Head Coach & Program Leader