PE 1508 - Flatwater Canoeing

Course Syllabus

PE 1508 - Flatwater Canoeing (1 cr)
Instructor: Dr. Ken Gilbertson
Fall 2001
MW: 2-4:30 pm - Sept11 - November 1
Office hours: By app't
107 SpHC, phone: 726-6258
web url:

"The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores." (Sig Olson, (1956)., The Singing Wilderness. p 77)


The goal of this course is to teach you the basics of canoeing skills. This includes an effort to impress upon you the pleasures of paddling a boat under your own power and direction.


The best text is Bill Mason's text listed below. However, this text is no longer in print. In lieu of purchasing a text, the text is located in the reserve reading section of the Library. I suggest that you make copies of the essential materials. Thus, you will have no cost for text purchase, but may have to spend some money to print copies of text materials, if you so choose.

Go to my web page at:

Mason, Bill (1984) The path of the paddle 2nd Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Note: Do your readings prior to and in correspondence with the weekly class subjects.

Sept. 11: Introduction; Hypothermia; Canoe terminology & design; Clothing; Accessories;
Chapter 1,2,12

Sept 13: Safety - Swim test; Canoe stability; low brace
**(MEET AT POOL - ready to swim at 2pm)
Chap. 3, pp 52

Sept 18: Safety - Canoe rescue; Draw; Sweep (MEET AT POOL - ready to swim at 2pm)
Chap. 5, 10

Sept 20: Lifts (1 & 2 person); Strokes: J; Pitch; C

Sept. 25: Strokes: Pry; Duffek; Reverse Strokes (Sweep; Reverse; and, Back);
Chap 5

Sept. 27: Cross Strokes(Cross-Draw &Cross- Duffek).
Chap. 5

Oct 2: Practice Strokes on the harbor
October 4: Practice Strokes on the harbor
October 9: Practice Strokes on the harbor

October 11: Moving Water: How to read moving water; Rapid classification; River fundamentals; Bill Mason Film
Chap. 6, 9

October 16: Skills Review
October 18: Skills Review (Note: depending on the progress of the class, we may begin the Practical Exam on this day)

October 23: Practical Exam
October 25: Practical Exam

October 30: Review (SpHC 20 - pool))

Nov. 1: Final Written Exam (SpHC 20 - pool)

Practical Progress = 30% A = 92%
Practical exam = 50% B = 82%
Written exam = 20% C = 72%

Attendance is mandatory. Because this course is condensed, missing even one class is equivalent to missing an entire week of material. Missing more than one class will result in a full drop in grade.


It is essential for your learning and enjoyment of this course that you come to class prepared for the weather. We will be going outside regardless of the conditions. Therefore, you must be properly dressed. Also, please be ready to go at the class site at 2 pm so that we can move right into our lesson for the day.

Please anticipate traffic (both automobile and boat) in getting to the Aquatic Center. It is imperative that you are timely in being ready to begin class at 2pm!

"A man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows. The instant he dips a paddle, he flows as it flows, the canoe yielding to his slightest touch, responsive to his every whim and thought. The paddle is an extension of his arm, as his arm is part of his body. ...there , too, is a sense of harmony and oneness with the earth. But to the canoeman there is nothing that compares with the joy he knows when a paddle is in his hand." (Sig Olson, (1956)., The Singing Wilderness. pp. 77-78)