Friday, April 29, 2016

Call for Presenters - National Paddlesports Conference 2016!

The ACA is now accepting proposals for the 2016 National Paddlesports Conference (NPC), scheduled November 11-13, 2016.

Visit for more details. The proposal submission deadline is June 3. 

Please share this blog post with friends in your paddlesports network who might be interested in the opportunity to present at the 2016 NPC! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Get Ready for National Safe Boating Week, May 21-27!

Prepare to participate in the boating safety awareness event of the year! As a kickoff for this year’s National Safe Boating Week (May 21–27, 2016), be sure to mark your calendar for Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on Friday, May 20th. 

This kick-off celebration is part of the North American Safe Boating Campaign – simply known as Wear It! – a yearlong effort which brings together boating safety partners across the U.S. and Canada to promote safe and responsible boating, including voluntary, consistent wear of life jackets.

The ACA participates in the Wear It! Campaign year after year, and we encourage you to join us in 2016 by sharing your #WearIt photos and spreading the message of #SafeBoatWeek on social media! 

ACA staffer Kelsey Bracewell sporting her PFD during the 2014 "Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day."
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2013, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting, and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

Throughout the campaign, Wear It! will remind boaters of the importance of boating safely, including consistent life jacket wear, boating sober, knowing navigational rules and having a proper lookout.

This stand-up paddler wears an inflatable beltpack PFD.
Who says safety can't be comfortable? 
Stay tuned for more details and follow #SafeBoatWeek to join the conversation about safety + fun on the water.

Follow the ACA on:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

National Park Week

Sally Jewel, Secretary of the Interior, gave a major conservation speech at the National Geographic Society on Tuesday, April 19th. ACA Public Policy Chief Louis Metzger attended the event. 

Following the Secretary's speech, she was interviewed by Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief of the National Geographic.

Secretary Jewell presented a brief history of the park and public land system and noted that at this time, when national parks are being visited in record numbers, almost 307 million visits last year, the parks have almost $12 billion in maintenance expense backlog. Also, national parks and public lands are being threatened by a movement to return public lands to the states to do with as they wish, e.g. sell it off for development. 

Although Secretary Jewell did not use this term, some have called this movement "the public land heist." Secretary Jewell also presented her vision for the next 100 years and noted that rejuvenating the parks and public lands will require all of our support. 

Please let your senators and representatives know that you support the National Park Service and want public lands to remain public! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Canoe Sailing

In case you missed it... The latest issue of Canoe Sailor is out! Read it online today.

Did you know that canoes have been used for sailing since before 1870? Check out the ACA's Canoe Sailing Committee for more info on how you can give this great sport a try!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Smolen & Eichfeld are Rio Bound!

The road to Rio is a long one, but Michal Smolen and Casey Eichfeld are almost there! 

Smolen and Eichfeld both qualified at the Slalom Olympic Team Trials held at the National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 9th. They will be heading to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this summer, and we'll be cheering them on every step of the way.

Go Team USA!

Olympic Canoeist Casey Eischfeld showing love for the ACA.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Worldwide Voyage of the Hokule’a - East Coast Landings Happening Soon!

Since she was first built and launched in the 1970s, Hōkūle’a continues to bring people together from all walks of life. She is more than a voyaging canoe—she represents the common desire shared by the people of Hawaii, the Pacific, and the World to protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.

"Currently, our compass – and indeed the world's – points toward an unsustainable future. However, as on a canoe, our ability to survive is directly dependent on our ability to help each other. By bringing together and working with scientists, educators, policy makers, business leaders and concerned citizens, we believe Hawai‘i can one day become a model of social and environmental responsibility to the world." - Polynesian Voyaging Society

On March 8, 1975, Hōkūle‘a, a performance-accurate deep sea voyaging canoe built in the tradition of ancient Hawaiian wa‘a kaulua (double-hulled voyaging canoe), was launched from the sacred shores of Hakipu‘u-Kualoa, in Kāne‘ohe Bay on the island of O‘ahu. She was designed by artist and historian Herb Kawainui Kāne, one of the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. 

The canoe was named Hōkūle‘a (“Star of Gladness”), a zenith star of Hawai‘i, which appeared to him growing ever brighter in a dream. This launching was one of many events that marked a generation of renewal for Hawai‘i’s indigenous people. Along with the renewal of voyaging and navigation traditions came a renewal of Hawaiian language, dance, chant, and many other expressions of Hawaiian culture. The renewal represented a new-found respect and appreciation for Hawaiian culture, by all of Hawai’i’s people.For the Hawaiian people, it has meant that they once again have begun to feel proud of who they are, and where they come from.

The ACA is proud to help organize the east coast landings and be a partner in this historic endeavor.

The Hōkūle‘a will have scheduled landings in:

Charleston, SC
Charleston Outdoor Festival - April 14-16th

Washington, DC
Washington Canoe Club - May 18-22nd

New York City
World Ocean Day - June 8th
Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge - June 11th

Monday, April 11, 2016

ACA Grant Project: Sustainable Paddlesports Education for Underserved Communities

T.J. Turner leads a kayaking pool session as part of his 2016 grant project.
ACA staffer T.J. Turner is currently leading a grant project (funded by the US Coast Guard) focused on creating sustainable paddlesports education for underserved and underrepresented communities. This grant project will allow the ACA to increase our current capability to conduct on-water instruction for a range of individuals and organizations across the country. 

The project will increase instructors' skills and abilities, get underrepresented community members out on the water, create community partnerships, and further promote safe paddling culture.

By empowering the adults in the selected communities with appropriate boating knowledge and skill, this grant project will be both replicable and sustainable in future years for those locations. This will provide a sustainable source of local education that will contribute to the decrease in both fatalities and accidents for both the current and future generation of boaters.

Locations Chosen for Grant Funding:
  • Miami, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Muskegon, Michigan
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Galveston, Texas
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Juneau, Alaska
  • New York City, New York 
All grant locations, with the exception of Tampa, have instructors and community organizations involved in each program.

To learn more about this grant project, please visit: 

You may also contact ACA Education and Outreach Coordinator, T.J. Turner with any questions.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Competing with Technology and Getting More Kids Outside

By Tee Clarkson, ACA level I kayak instructor currently working with the ACA to expand youth programming.


Like most parents with kids in elementary school, I spend a large portion of my “free” time shuttling them to and from games, birthday parties, and friends’ houses. It’s the nature of the job.

After recently collecting my daughter from a friend’s house, I posed the usual line of questioning as to what they had done and whether she had fun.

I found myself more than pleasantly surprised to hear that she and her friend (a sixth grade girl who is a couple years older) had gone for a walk in the neighborhood and taken a few fishing rods along with them to a little pond tucked back in the woods.

My daughter relayed how they had dug up their own worms, and that she had caught a little bluegill. I couldn’t help but smile, picturing the two of them taking the fish off the hook and releasing it back to the water.

As a parent of a 4th and a 3rd grader, I often feel like I am constantly at odds with screens, and I know darn well that I am not alone.

When it comes to technology, however, I am equally concerned with the effect it has on adults as with its impact today’s youth. 

In reading what has become the bible for getting kids outside, Richard Louv’s, Last Child in the Woods, I was happy to see that he addressed an issue that has spurred many a conversation amongst fellow parents and friends, the lack of kids running around in the neighborhoods and exploring the wild places around them.

Louv notes that the reason is generally due to the parents’ fear, which has been brought on more by technology and the ever present flow of information than by anything else.

Like most people my age with children in elementary school, I remember a rich outdoor life as a child. My two brothers and I came home from school and went exploring nearly every afternoon. We fished, rode our bikes, built forts, caught salamanders and frogs, and generally had a good ole time outside. We were free, and we relished in it.

The afternoon my daughter described took me fondly back to those days. Unfortunately where I currently live in the city doesn’t offer the same opportunities I had as a kid. There are simply too many roads to cross and cars to dodge to get to the closest wild space. 

That leaves it up to my wife and I to get the kids outside, something we make a conscious effort to do every chance we get.

Like many outdoor families, we fish, we bike, we hike, and we paddle. Fortunately we live in a great outdoor city, Richmond, VA, that has all of these options only a few miles down the road in any number of parks and public spaces. We are equally fortunate to have the James River running right through town.

While technology allows us, for better or worse, to share information in an almost constant global live stream, and while this can certainly create fear, rather than complain, I try and use it as a motivator to get the next generation outdoors as much as possible.

If there is any undeniable truth out there, it is that the world is and will continue to be a better place the more people spend recreating in its wild places. 

Having spent the last 12 years introducing children to the outdoors through our fishing, mountain bike, and kayak summer camps, I am constantly reminded about the importance of getting kids outside.

I was that kid at camp who brought his own fishing rod and had to be pried away from the pond to take part in other activities. I strive to create activities for my kids and our campers that I loved or would have loved as a kid. Funny…I probably love them even more as an adult.

A kayak, a paddle, and a fishing rod are an ideal way to start…It’s really that simple.

Tee Clarkson started running youth summer camps in 2005 at what has now morphed into Virginia Outside and Paddle Fish. They currently get over 600 kids a summer on the water and the trails in their fishing, mountain bike,, kayaking, and hiking programs. Tee is an ACA level I kayak instructor and is currently working with the ACA to expand youth programming. Additionally Tee writes the Outdoors Column for the Richmond Times Dispatch and does some freelance writing for national publications like The DRAKE, The Flyfish Journal, and others.

Photo credit: Kyle LaFerriere

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We're Participating in Fredericksburg's Community Give Day - May 3rd!

The ACA is proud to have its national headquarters in the beautiful and historic town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. While we work to promote paddlesports all across the country, this includes a grassroots commitment to our hometown community here in Fredericksburg

This year, we couldn't be happier to participate in the local Community Give-- a 24-hour online day of giving event to benefit local nonprofits. 

The Community Give is about working together for a single day, celebrating our spirit of generosity and making a significant and heartfelt impact on each of the lives touched by the hard-working nonprofit organizations that affect so many areas of our lives and community. The Community Give is a 24-hour day of giving on Tuesday May 3, 2016 from 12:00 a.m. until midnight. It is a day when everyone in our region is asked to make a donation and show support for the local nonprofit organizations that positively impact our lives every day.

The Community Foundation will be driving traffic to the giving day website ( using every marketing/outreach/media opportunity available to us. Donors will choose the issue or nonprofit organization most important to them and make a secure online donation.
Please consider making a donation to the ACA on May 3 so that we can continue to protect our local waterways, and bring more safe paddling opportunities to our community! 

To learn more about the ACA's commitment to community responsibility, please click here

Monday, April 4, 2016

Member Benefit: Hobie Sunglasses Discount

All ACA members receive a 20% discount on Hobie Polarized sunglasses.

Please visit the Hobie Polarized website and use code ACA2016 to receive a discount on your next pair of polarized sunglasses.

Plus, a percentage of each purchase is donated by Hobie Polarized back to the ACA to continue our work promoting paddlesports education, stewardship, recreation and competition.

Visit our website for more information on all the benefits of ACA membership.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Hokule’a is Weaving a Lei of Hope for the Planet

By Sam Low

Hokule’a is a replica of the vessels used by Polynesians to settle the Pacific Ocean, one-third of our planet, a thousand years before the arrival of Europeans. Launched in 1975, she has sailed 150,000 miles, following the routes taken by these intrepid Polynesian explorers, navigated always as they would have done - without instruments or charts - by relying instead on signs of direction in the stars, waves and flight of birds. From March through August of 2016, she will visit various East Coast ports on a voyage around the world to “malama honua,” care for Planet Earth.

On March 23rd, 2016, Hokule’a arrived at Key West, Florida. Almost two years ago, she left her homeport in Honolulu to voyage around the world. In her wake, she is weaving a “Lei of Hope” by visiting and bringing attention to places where scientists, activists and ordinary people are working to find positive solutions to our global environmental problems. One of her most ardent supporters is Dr. Sylvia Earle, famous oceanographer and environmentalist.

“When I was a young scientist, we thought that the ocean was too big to fail,” says Dr. Earle. “Now we know that because of what we human beings are doing to the planet, not only is the ocean in trouble but so are we. As Hokule’a circles the world, I love the idea that her voyage will be like a living lei surrounding the Planet and bringing hope to all of us.”

To draw attention to solving our grave environmental problems, Dr. Earle has mapped many “hope spots” – places where solutions to problems like global warming are being discovered. One of these, recently visited by Hokule’a, is at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in Townsville, Australia. Here, scientists are working to understand the importance of coral to the health of our oceans and the potential harm they may receive as the earth warms. One solution they have discovered is to breed corals to withstand both warmer temperatures and the acidification of the earth’s oceans.

Among other places where progress is being made, Hokule’a’s crew visited:

· The Reef Guardian Schools Program, encompassing 310 schools and more than 127,000 students and 8218 teachers throughout the Great Barrier Reef who are all committed to being stewards of the reef.

· American Samoa, where the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument has recently been created to protect coral reefs in perpetuity from commercial fishing and deep-water mining.

· Serengan Island, in Bali, home to a traditional fishing village where a turtle conservation program and community gardens have been established.

· The Green School in Bali, named “The Greenest School on Earth in 2012” for its program to provide students with a natural, holistic and student-centered education according to their three simple guides: “be local; let your environment be your guide; and envisage how your grandchildren will be affected by your actions.”

· Kopernik, also in Bali, an organization dedicated to help impoverished rural communities by making inexpensive technology easily available to them.

· The Small Islands Developing States conference in American Samoa where they met representatives from around the world and spoke about the Malama Honua voyage and studied such topics as green energy, environmental leadership, and food security. Here, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon sailed aboard Hokule’a and pledged his support for her mission.

· False Bay, one of six areas in South Africa designated a Mission Blue “Hope Spot” where Craig Foster, an award winning documentary filmmaker, is working to preserve one of the most ecologically rich coastlines in the world.

· iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa, a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising 820,400 acres of diverse ecosystems where Zulu tribal elders accompanied the crew on a tour of the park and invited them to share in their culture.

· Reef Conservation Mauritius, a local marine environmental NGO working to protect endangered coral reefs by educating local residents and businesses, and establishing a snorkeling trail to encourage ecotourism and stewardship of the reef.

Hokule’a’s voyage, Dr. Earle says, “is bringing attention to all those who are inspired by the positive message that we can achieve great things if we do what we can – and we do it together.”

Hokule’a is scheduled to visit Cape Canaveral, Florida April 4-8; Charleston, South Carolina April 14; Newport News, Virginia April 23 for Earth Day; Yorktown, Virginia April 24 – May 8; Tangier Island, May 9; Old Town, Alexandria May 15; Washington DC, May 18 -22 and New York June 5-18. On June 8, she will commemorate World Oceans Day with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

“I am honored to be a part of Hokule’a’s Worldwide Voyage,” said the Secretary General when he sailed aboard Hokule’a. “I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future, and a life of dignity for all.”

After that she will proceed up the East Coast with ports of call in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

Sam Low is the author of “Hawaiki Rising – Hokule’a, Nainoa Thompson and the Hawaiian Renaissance.” He has made three voyages aboard Hokule’a and is arranging her visit to Martha’s Vineyard. You may contact him at:

To follow Hokule’a’s voyage please visit: