Stand-up Scouters: Teaching paddleboarding, enjoying every minute

Stand-up paddleboarding is so new that when most of the instructors arrived during staff week, none had set foot on a paddleboard.

Not that you could tell this morning when I visited the area staffed by a knowledgeable, passionate, hilarious group of Scouters from Alaska, Baltimore, Minnesota, Michigan and Arizona. That group included Connie Knie, a Scouter from Michigan who wasn’t shy about describing her stand-up paddleboarding expertise.

“Aside from maybe sailing, they could not have put me in a venue where I have less knowledge,” she said.

That’s why Christopher Stec, chief operating officer of the American Canoe Association, visited the staff of stand-up paddleboarding (hereafter called SUP) last week. Stec spent a full day training the SUP staff on the basics of maneuvering these inflatable boards with a long paddle.

“The terminology and some of the technique is the same as canoeing,” Knie said. “Except there’s a chance you might fall.”

That’s when Harrison Cotton, a Scouter from Minnesota, chimed in.

“Right after we get them to stand up out there on the water, we tell them to fall down,” he said. Because “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re going to fall.”

To fall during SUP, you want to employ the heel-drag method. Try to keep one heel on the board for as long as possible on your way down. If you lose your balance and jump off without the heel-drag method, you’ll push the board away from you and spend most of your 30-minute SUP experience swimming.

Knie said they’ve been putting through 1,000 Scouts and Venturers a day so far. Even better: average wait times of no more than 20 to 30 minutes. During my 8:30 a.m. visit, there was no line as a mix of first-timers and SUP veterans stopped by. All had a great time, including a Scout who told his friend, “This is going to be so fun. I guarantee you this will be the most fun we’ll have all day.”

And at this lakeside beach, the Scouts weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. Knie, Cotton and the other staffers say they bonded instantly.

Said Knie: “We’ve all become fast friends.”

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About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.