Jump-start Your Paddling Skills with Our Instructional Courses

If you want to learn a new skill or push a current skill to the next level, use this guide to familiarize yourself with our instructional courses.

Many people will admit they like to learn, but they’ll often add that they don’t like traditional schooling.

Our teaching style is outdoors and anything but traditional.

Learning lights up the brain and body, and when we take skills-based learning into the outdoors, that’s when the magic happens. Our students not only improve their paddling abilities, but they also become more confident and connected to nature.

Don’t Be Intimidated. We Welcome Beginners!

Bob Brueckner exemplifies our welcoming approach to beginners.

He loves to teach canoeing and kayaking, and his favorite moments are the small marks of progress and the way a surprised enthusiasm can light up a student. He finds it “rewarding when you can see someone who finally figures out how to do a forward stroke.”

You may think you can’t do it, but a good teacher—and Bob is, if anything, that—helps you realize you can.

Bob recalls helping a quiet, unsmiling guest surf a little rapid on the Neuse River and how a “grin started creeping across his face.” This example is indicative of the value Bob finds in teaching: seeing people reach goals that previously seemed unattainable.

Learn New Skills while Connecting to Nature

Jacob Matheny, our Operations Manager, strives to set students up to interact with nature, and he revels in the stories they bring back to their friends and families. Though you may take a course just to learn to roll a kayak, Jacob believes that time in nature can be curative and it “helps people in areas of their lives that they can’t find a cure for.” Through this realization, he developed his own method of helping others connect with nature and he brings this awareness to his interactions with both guided trip guests and his paddling students.

Jacob’s approach to guiding and teaching remains nuanced. He wants people to have that nature therapy experience without being aware of the change they are undergoing. An intuitive guide, Jacob does not directly control a student’s experience. As he says, “To be a really good teacher, you lead them to finding the answer themselves.

Make Friends with Other Paddlers

If you’re not sure why you would want to try a new sport, it can be a great way to make friends.

Loneliness has become an epidemic, but learning to paddle gives you a community. Most paddlers are happy to welcome newcomers to the sport, and there are plenty of clubs and programs to welcome you.

If you get into paddling, consider joining the Carolina Canoe Club and attending their Week of Rivers, a program in which participants paddle a different river each day. You’ll gain a mentor and some new friends, which can make even embarrassing experiences fun, like the time Bob Brueckner swam five times on the Nantahala, and the President of the CCC kindly suggested he try the Tuckaseegee because the water is warmer.

As you share experiences with other paddlers, you will find that your new skills have unlocked a different world, as paddling’s hidden magic is friendship.

Paddle with Us

If you’d like to learn from us, we welcome beginners as well as experienced paddlers looking to vary their skill set. And it’s not all about paddling! We have other courses as well, and frequently offer new classes to engage our students.

Check out our current course list below.

Quick Start Kayak Class

This is an introductory class in the basics of kayaking, intended for beginners or those with little paddling experience. This course provides an understanding of how different paddle strokes affect the kayak and offers an opportunity to practice in a fun group setting. The class stresses technique, safety, and enjoyment.

Participants must be at least 10 years of age or older.

Stoney Creek Kayaking Fundamentals

This trip takes place at the secluded and peaceful Stoney Creek Marina, near the historic Carolina Mill just outside of Burlington.

This self-guided, recreational kayak trip begins with a 15-minute review of basic kayaking strokes and safety precautions.

After the introduction, guests are free to explore the scenic flatwater of Stoney Creek. Suitable for all skill levels, this is a self-guided trip where guests are in control of the amount of time and distance paddled.


Beginner Kayak Fishing 101

Putting in at Saxapahaw Lake, you will learn the basics of fishing and fishing from a kayak while exploring this beautiful section of the Haw River.

Bait and fishing gear are provided, but personal gear is also allowed. This trip is suitable for all skill levels.

Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga

Yoga on a stand-up paddleboard is a great combination to reconnect with your center and nature in an easy relaxed atmosphere. Get your body moving and balanced as you join us for this liberating and empowering experience. 

Beginner Sea Kayaking Introduction Class

This 6-hour sea kayak course at Jordan Lake is ideal for both beginners and those who want to refine their skill.

Students practice on-land and on-water exercises to learn new paddling techniques and practice skills, including:

Basic paddle strokes and edging techniques
• Efficient endurance paddling technique
• Water safety, wet-exits, self-rescue and aided rescue techniques
• Selection and use of necessary gear

After a shore-side lunch (BYOL), the afternoon will be devoted to learning how to plan a trip in addition to a 2-hour exploration of Jordan Lake. This will give you plenty of time to practice as well as enjoy the tranquility of nature.

This course is intended for anyone over the age of 16 who is in reasonable health.

Kayak Roll Instruction

Rolling is an essential skill to master for whitewater kayakers, and a huge asset for touring and sea kayakers. Being able to roll allows for more confidence in the water, which means you’ll be more at ease and willing to explore new elements of the sport. Rolling is about good technique, not power, which means that any reasonably fit paddler can master this skill if they are willing.

Our experienced instructors will provide professional and attentive guidance for learners of all levels. Mastering this skill can take time – we recommend planning for multiple sessions.

Private Instruction

Private lessons provide the undivided attention of an experienced HRCK Instructor and are available for all skill levels.

We offer private instruction for a kayak, canoe, or SUP. Groups are welcome to sign up for private instruction as well.