Build Your Own SUP Summer Camp: Lessons for SUP Beginners and More

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Suess

At some point, you will look at your kids and wonder where the time went. It’s okay to reflect on what you may not have done to enrich their lives. But there is something you can do in the here and now: teach them to stand on liquid.

The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places in the U.S. to experience the intimate beauty of water. Surrounded by high mountain lakes, meandering rivers and placid reservoirs, these crystal blue bodies beckons us to enjoy. That enjoyment can come in many different ways but none put the person in the picture like a stand up paddle board. If you have yet to begin that journey and have yet to expose your kids to this experience, now is the time to make those plans.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 1.07.36 PMOne of the best ways to do this may be to organize your own standup paddle boarding camp. With the help of good instruction, your kids will experience liquid possibilities they may not have known existed. So I thought I’d take a moment to explain what to look for when seeking out good paddle board instruction and one of the best places in central Oregon to experience to gain the solid background needed to make this a life long sport for your children.

Good paddle board instruction should begin on dry land. This is where you and your kids (and even the neighborhood kids) will get the first lesson of paddle board safety, how to hold the paddle, and what sort of water etiquette they will need. They will also learn the importance of personal floatation devices and proper leashing. There is often a brief explanation about the equipment being used and what to expect from different types of boards.

A good instructor, like the folks found at Stand On Liquid, will spend half the class discussing these safety and board fundamentals before they take your group on the water.

The next step will be a shallow water lesson on balance. Keep in mind that you and your kids must be swimmers. Generally, instructors put a weight limit on kids, requiring they weigh at least 65 lbs. This isn’t quite large enough to carry their own board, although they will be given a dry land lesson on this aspect of the experience.

Initially, they may spend more than a few minutes in the water, not on it, but the must be able to recover and get back on the board. This might be more a chore for you as an adult. But it is far easier to overcome than you might imagine. Once comfortably upright, the technique to stay that way is a little different than snowboarding or surfing. Those sports require you to shift your weight to turn, a sort of body forward, lean back type of pivoting. In paddleboarding, your feet and your body a both facing forward, your weight is centered over slightly bent knees and your balance is maintained by squatting closer to the board.

Here you can expect some individual analysis of what you and your kids need to work on. This will include board launching, how to fall off the board safely and how to turn. Don’t be surprised if your kids catch on more quickly than you. Their natural center of balance, often without having to think about like you do, will make you wonder why you bothered with lessons. Don’t. These are lifelong fundamentals that they can build on.

So if you’re thinking about summer and what activity to introduce that bunch of kids playing basketball in your driveway, paddle boarding should be it. It will open a world to them they may not have known existed while giving them one of the best workouts ever. It will begin a lifelong journey. because as Robert M. Pirsig wrote in the “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”: “Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive.”

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