See the rest of the Outdoor Adventure Skills.
The Outdoor Adventure Skills program is an invitation for Scouts to try something new—to be outside more, testing themselves with progressive challenges while always staying within their capabilities to stay safe. In short, it’s about having life-changing experiences.
Each Outdoor Adventure Skills pathway is divided into nine stages with a badge awarded for each stage.
Check out Paddling Skills by Topic for a breakdown by common topics of each stage with increasing knowledge, accomplishment, and responsibilities as stages increase. It may help in planning sessions/activities and organizing resources.
Paddling Skills - Stage 1 Competencies & Requirements
- I can jump into chest-deep water with my Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on.
- I can blow bubbles in the water for 10 seconds.
- I can explain what a PFD is for.
- I can put on my PFD and know how it should fit.
- I can show where the bow and stern are in a canoe or kayak.
- I can demonstrate the correct way to hold my paddle.
- I have demonstrated how to behave safely in my canoe or kayak.
- I can explain why I should care for my PFD.
- I can explain the risks of cold water.
- I know how to contact the emergency services.
- I can get in and out of my watercraft safely.
- I have taken part in a short paddling adventure of at least one hour.
Paddling Skills - Stage 2 Competencies & Requirements
- I can swim 25 metres with my PFD on.
- I can explain the difference between a PFD and a life jacket.
- Before I launch my watercraft, I can show where I am allowed to go canoeing or kayaking.
- I can explain why I should not drink the water from the lake or river I am paddling on until it has been filtered or treated.
- I can identify the equipment Transport Canada requires me to have in my canoe or kayak.
- I can explain the safety rules for being near water.
- I can list the appropriate action I should take if I capsize in a canoe or kayak.
- I have explained some of the ways that paddling a canoe or kayak can have a negative impact on the environment where I am paddling.
- I can get help if I see somebody in difficulty on the water.
- I am familiar with common whistle signals and when they would be used.
- I have used a throw bag.
- I can identify the parts of my watercraft and my paddle.
- I am familiar with the signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia.
- I have taken part in an at least two paddling activities.
Paddling Skills - Stage 3 Competencies & Requirements
- I can swim 100 metres with my PFD on using any stroke.
- I know how to choose a paddle that is the correct size.
- With help from my team or my Scouter, I can paddle my canoe or kayak forward a short way.
- I have capsized a canoe while sitting in it.
- I can get back into my canoe or kayak with help from someone in another watercraft if my watercraft capsizes.
- I know how and where to get the latest weather forecast for the area where I will be paddling.
- I know what the risks are for paddling in different weather conditions.
- I can make a recognized distress signal.
- I can throw a throw bag.
- I have helped a Stage 1 paddler learn to put his or her PFD on.
- I have taken part in two paddling activities.
Paddling Skills - Stage 4 Competencies & Requirements
- I can demonstrate the HELP and Huddle positions while in the water wearing a PFD.
- I can explain what clothing should be worn while canoe tripping.
- I can assist in launching and landing a canoe or kayak.
- I can trade places with my paddling partner while on the water.
- I have helped a Stage 2 paddler to explain the basic safety rules for being near water.
- I can explain the seven principles of Leave No Trace.
- I have taken part in a canoe or kayak raft-up and can explain its uses.
- By myself or with a paddling partner, I can paddle a canoe or kayak in a straight line going forward for at least 50 metres.
- I can make my canoe or kayak turn in the direction I want it to turn.
- I can demonstrate basic canoe strokes (forward, reverse, draw, pry, stop, j, sweep).
- I can explain why my watercraft needs a painter and can attach one so that it is secure and readily available when I need it.
- I can describe water and weather conditions that make paddling unsafe and can explain what to do if I encounter them while I am on the water.
- I can explain why canoes and kayaks are important to Canadian aboriginal people and the history of Canada.
- I can identify three methods for helping someone in the water to reach safety and have demonstrated how to use them. (This can be demonstrated in open water or a swimming pool.)
- I can throw a throw bag so that someone in the water can reach it.
- I have taken part in and logged at least four paddling activities.
- I can explain what a float plan is.
- I have participated in at least one paddling activity of at least eight hours duration that includes making and eating a meal.
Paddling Skills - Stage 5 Competencies & Requirements
- I have participated in at least two two-day paddling trips.
- I have helped prepare an emergency plan and a float plan with a more experienced paddler for one of the trips.
- I have participated in creating a menu for an overnight trip.
- I can recognize the symptoms of weather-related injuries and know how to treat them.
- I can demonstrate a self-rescue with my canoe or kayak.
- I can demonstrate how to pack my personal gear so that it will stay dry.
- I have participated in a canoe-over-canoe rescue as both the rescuer and the one being rescued.
- I can light a fire using no more than three matches.
- I have made a personal survival kit as identified in the Field Guide for Canadian Scouting (pages 27–28).
- I can explain Scouts Canada’s guidelines for paddle sports.
- I can assist Stage 3 paddlers to get back into their swamped watercraft.
- I can help paddlers at Stage 1 identify the parts of their paddles and their canoes or kayaks.
- I have completed and logged at least six days of backcountry paddling.
- I have attained at least the Paddle Canada Canoe Basic Skills level of paddling certification.
Paddling Skills - Stage 6 Competencies & Requirements
- I can load my canoe with personal and group gear for a multi-day trip.
- I have demonstrated several methods for ensuring that water is safe to drink.
- I know how to do rescue breathing with a victim who is in the water while I am in my canoe or kayak.
- I have attained at least Paddle Canada Lake Canoe Skills Introduction Tandem certification (or provincial equivalent where applicable).
- I can create a gear list for the personal and group gear required on a four-day trip.
- I can explain the features of a good campsite on a waterway.
- I know how to find out the backcountry camping regulations in the area where I will be travelling.
- I can explain how to deal with waste while traveling in the backcountry, including greywater, solid waste, food scraps and human waste.
- I can read and understand a topographical map and can use it and a compass to tell where I am and where I am going while on a canoe trip.
- I can recognize conditions that may precede bad weather.
- I know the limits of weather that are safe to paddle in.
- I have completed and logged at least eight days of backcountry canoe tripping.
- I have taught at least one paddling skill, one paddling safety element and one paddling knowledge item to paddlers working on Stages 1–4.
- I have explained the seven principles of Leave No Trace to a Stage 4 paddler.
- I have kept a journal of my canoe excursions that includes both details of the trip and my personal reflections.
- With my paddling team, I can plan a healthy menu for our canoe adventure and can help prepare the meals we have planned.
- I can explain how I can access emergency assistance while in the backcountry.
- I have completed at least one paddling trip that is four days, 50 km, and has a minimum of three different campsites and includes portages.
Paddling Skills - Stage 7 Competencies & Requirements
- I can efficiently and safely carry my canoe and my gear across a portage of a least 700 metres.
- I have attained a minimum of Paddle Canada Lake Canoe Skills Intermediate Tandem level certification.
- I have attained a minimum of Paddle Canada Moving Water Canoe Skills Introduction Tandem certification.
- I always wear an approved paddling helmet when I paddle in rapids.
- I can explain the relative benefits of various types of canoe materials and designs.
- I know how to outfit a canoe for safety and comfort.
- I know how to use basic tripping technology and understand the pros and cons of the devices I use.
- I can show how and why the way I load my canoe will be different for different water conditions.
- I understand the food requirements for canoe trippers and have prepared a nutritious and delicious menu for a multiday canoe trip.
- I can use several different methods for cooking.
- I have taught at least one paddling skill, one safety element and one knowledge item to paddlers working on Stage 4 or 5.
- I have participated in 12 days of canoe tripping at Stage 7 and recorded the information in my trip log.
- I have completed at least one canoe trip of at least six days duration, 100 km distance and a minimum of four campsites. The trip includes portages and/or Class 1 or 2 moving water.
- With my team, I have developed a hazard assessment and risk control plan detailing how we will deal with injuries, illness, loss of equipment and other potential emergencies on our trip.
- With my team, I have developed a float plan for my canoe trip.
- I know what items should be in a first aid kit for backcountry travel as per Transport Canada regulations.
- I have attained a minimum of Standard Level first aid training from an accredited agency. Standard level wilderness first aid is strongly recommended, but urban course is acceptable.
- I have helped to lead a Stage 5 overnight canoe expedition.
- With my team, I can plan all the details for an overnight canoe trip (minimum two days) and have evaluated the trip afterwards to ensure that our planning was complete and appropriate.
Paddling Skills - Stage 8 Competencies & Requirements
- I can plan and carry out a backcountry canoe trip with my team of at least 14 days, 250 km and a minimum of 11 different campsites.
- I can inspect a rapid to determine the best lines for running it.
- I can recognize a rapid that is beyond my skill level to run.
- I have attained Paddle Canada Moving Water Canoe Skills Intermediate Tandem certifications.
- I have completed and logged at least 25 days of canoe tripping at Stage 8.
- I have successfully completed a Paddle Canada Waterfront Canoeing Instructor course.
- While on my extended trip, I have been the designated trip leader for at least one day (Two Scouts—but not more than two—may share the trip leader role).
- I can rescue a capsized loaded canoe and get the swimmers to safety.
- I can explain the responsibilities of a trip leader. See requirement 7 Stage 8
- I have successfully completed an advanced wilderness first aid course of at least 40 hours duration (80 hours preferred) with a certified accreditation agency (St. John Ambulance, Red Cross or equivalent).
- I have assisted in teaching a paddling course to Stage 5–6 paddlers.
Paddling Skills - Stage 9 Competencies & Requirements
- I have completed instructor level certification in at least one Paddle Canada discipline.
- I have completed and logged at least 25 days of backcountry canoe tripping, which may include time spent leading trips for less-experienced paddlers.
- I know and follow the Transport Canada requirements for guided canoe trips.
- I have completed all necessary paperwork for leading a trip, including float plan, emergency plan and Scouts Canada requirements.
- I have successfully completed a swift water rescue course.
- I can lead a group of Stage 6 or 7 paddlers on a multiday excursion.
- I have taught at least two sanctioned Paddle Canada courses to Scouts working at Stage 5–8.