Basic Instruction for All Ages: Courses and Camps

Young paddlers playing water polo in kayaks
Paddlers playing water polo in kayaks

  • Learn how to paddle a kayak or canoe safely
  • Improve your whitewater paddling skills
  • Learn how to read a river better

The Mach 1 Slalom Team is a sport and recreational organization designed to be a strong development program for all youth — both young and older.

Introduction to whitewater paddling for continued enjoyment and safety sake, Mach 1 has the following step-wise program for all kids, parents and adults. 

Step One. Perform the Wet Exit

The wet exit is a means to 'upset' the kayak, learn to exit the boat and swim the boat to shore safely. For younger and smaller kids, this is done without a spray skirt. Older kids and adults use the spray skirt. This can be done anytime, including at winter pool sessions, to get comfortable with the boat. Safe wet exit technique in moving water is practiced during the basic course and camps as well.

We primarily use winter pool sessions to teach the Eskimo roll, but we welcome anyone who is curious to join us and try the wet exit. Call ahead (814-222-0052) so we can have equipment for you.

Step Two. Take the Basic Paddling Course.

The one- or two-day-a-week basic course consists of six lessons of about 1.5 hours each. In addition, our basic camps offer a more concentrated series over the course of a week. All courses and camps take place at Sunnyside Paddling Park in Bellefonte on Spring Creek (water temperature 50°F year round).

Alden Henrie, slalom canoe, 2010 Sunnyside Slalom
Alden Henrie of Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, slalom canoe, 2011 Sunnyside Slalom

The following basic course series and week-long camps cost $125. We supply the boats, paddles, PFDs and helmets:

  • Monday and Wednesday series (ongoing signup throughout the year)
  • Tuesday and Thursday series (ongoing signup throughout the year)

Pick the nights that work best for you! Schedule can be flexed as needed. The summertime week-long camps are typically scheduled to start on the following dates: 

  • June 6 - 8, 2019
  • Last week of July
  • Early August (TBA)

These are excellent sessions to launch a boating career or hone your skills. Once the basic course or camp is completed, new paddlers are welcome to continue to use equipment and continue to train throughout the end of the year without additional fees for training time and equipment use.

Step Three. Enjoy Paddling (and Local Slalom and Downriver Races)

After the basic course or camp, enjoy recreational river paddling on various streams and creeks as skills, training and experience develop. Enjoy friendly competition in slaloms by being part of a “town team” in the Pennsylvania League of Slalom Boating (PAL Slalom Boating). Teams can be determined by school district, homeschool groups, or organization, such as a Scout Troop. League races take place at all Pennsylvania class I and II whitewater slaloms. These local races include the Red Mo Downriver Race (last Saturday in March), Kish Slalom (first weekend in May), and Penn Cup races (August through October). We are also developing a merit journal so paddlers can track their individual progress and efforts.

Ava Hartchak ferries across Spring Creek
Ava Harchak hones her skills for next season as she ferries across Spring Creek.

Step Four. Learn the Eskimo Roll

Learn the Eskimo Roll at winter pool sessions, continue training and having fun!

Step Five: Continue Training and Set Your Own Goals!

Continue training at Sunnyside and take part in intermediate (e.g., Junior Olympics, New England Slalom Series) and advanced slaloms (e.g., U.S. National, International, World Cup) as your paddling skills improve and mature. Perhaps the Olympics are in your future. Mach 1 has provided the foundational skills for a number of U.S. Junior and National Team members throughout the years. Our most recent U.S. Junior National Team member is Alden Henrie of Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania who competed for Team USA at the 2017 ICF Junior World Championships in Bratislava, Slovaia and the 2018 ICF Junior World Championships in Ivera, Italy.

You have limitless potential!

Alden Henrie, slalom canoe, U.S. Junior National Whitewater Slalom Team at 2017 World Championships, Bratislava, Slovakia
Alden Henrie of Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, slalom canoe
U.S. Junior National Whitewater Slalom Team at the 2017 World Championships, Bratislava, Slovakia


For more information or to sign up, contact Coach Kurtz at 814-222-0052, through our Contact form, by direct email at or visit our Facebook page Mach One Slalom Team!