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Originally used by the Inuits for hunting and fishing, a kayak is propelled from a sitting position using a double-ended paddle. Most commonly these boats have enclosed decks (closed cockpit) and are designed for a single person, although you can get open-cockpit kayaks and kayaks for two or more people.

Kayaking is very popular with scouts of all ages and many groups have their own boats. If not it is likely that a nearby group or activity centre will have some kayaks that you will be able to use. It does not require a vast expanse of water. If you want to go beyond splashing about and playing games you will need to find a suitable stretch of water such as a river, canal or lake. Unfortunately due to access restrictions you can't just paddle on any bit of water, so always make sure you get permission first.

A kayaking session can take many forms and can be for all ages, from skills training to fun sessions. There are many games, both wet and dry, which can be played whilst in kayaks. Kayaking is all about personal achievement and enjoyment. The skills learned require development of coordination and balance.

Once you have mastered the basics there are many different areas of kayaking to give a try. Some of these are outlined below:

Canoe polo - usually played in a swimming pool in teams of five, the object of this game is to get a ball into a goal suspended two metres above the water. A fast and furious game where capsizing your opponent is all part of the fun.

Racing - races range in length from a short sprint to a marathon. The boats used are lightweight, fast and very unstable.

Surf kayaking - there is nothing more exhilarating than surfing a wave as it rolls up the beach.

Whitewater kayaking - successfully negotiating a white water river requires you to be in total control of your kayak. An excellent way to sharpen your skills and get your adrenalin pumping.

Slalom - usually on whitewater, you are required to paddle around a set course as fast as possible. Time penalties are accrued / given for touching poles or missing out gates.

Playboating - using waves and other features created by fast flowing water, tricks and manoeuvres are performed. Playboating requires a good deal of skill and dedication to perfect but is fun to do and spectacular to watch.

Touring - pack your kayak with a tent and camping gear and off you go. There are many many miles of wayerways to explore.

Sea kayaking - explorer the coast by kayak. Paddle into sea caves and under towering cliffs.

How to run/provide kayaking

There are 3 ways of running Kayaking in Scouting. These are:

  1. Scout-led activity - running kayaking yourself or using someone else in Scouting

  2. Externally-led activity - running kayaking using an external provider

  3. Activity for adult groups - running kayaking for a group entirely of adults

Useful links

The National Governing Body for kayaking is:

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