Why We Need to Pass On our Love of Paddling

by Jason Eke

It’s important to pass on our love for canoeing—or paddling of any type—to the next generation for several reasons…

jason eke and his son canoeing
Jason Eke and his son, Noah, on a canoe trip in Ontario

Finding the Benefits of Nature

The main reason is because I've found there is a real healing benefit to getting out in nature. My favorite way to get there is by canoe.

When I was around 10 years old my father took me on my first canoe camping trip in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, in northeastern Ontario. It was my first time being exposed to what I now consider really being outdoors. We saw moose, had a bear come through camp and a lot of other great experiences.

But the one that stands out the most happened in an early evening.

My dad and I went out for a very short paddle on Moore Lake. The sun was setting and the water was perfectly calm. It was one of those real special quiet moments. When we were heading back to camp a huge muskie jumped out of the water no further than ten feet in front of me.

To me, the fish was the size of a dolphin—I’d never seen anything like that before! It was that moment that inspired me to continue getting outdoors.

Making Paddling Part of Our Lives

Since then, I've had the great fortune to have paddled in locations across Canada and overseas. The canoe enables me to get out further and escape from regular daily life and the distractions that influence an unhealthy lifestyle.

I've found that after getting a day or two into a trip I begin to shed away some of the baggage I don't even realize I'm carrying. When the trip’s finished I realize I feel a lot lighter.

People often talk about getting out into nature to reconnect to it, and I think that's true. But more importantly, I feel that getting out into nature helps us reconnect with ourselves.

Our Responsibility to Pass On What We Know

In a way it would be wrong for me to keep these experiences to myself. So passing on the skill and experience of canoeing is important.

It’s important to realize there's also a responsibility that goes along with passing on this canoe tradition. That responsibility is skill development.

What I've found is the more I learn about the canoe, the more enjoyable the experience is. Things like:

  • How a canoe’s design affects how it will handle in the water
  • Which paddle is best in which conditions
  • The different transitionary paddle strokes
  • How to perform a rescue
  • Even how to build canoes

These all contribute in some way to my own enjoyment while I'm out on the trail.

The Next Generation of Paddlers

I love canoes and I love canoeing, there's no question about it. I'd probably hit the trail with pretty much anyone!

As a father, it’s been the most fun to be able to share the experience with my son and two daughters. The best reward has been to watch them develop and be able to control a canoe on their own. It’s been a cool way to watch them mature in a different sort of way.

Our Latest Canoe Adventure

I just got back from a 100km trip in Algonquin Provincial Park (in southeastern Ontario) with my son, Noah. There was a long stretch of the trip that ran through the Tim River. The Tim is extremely windy and somewhat narrow in places, so being able to turn your boat is essential.

Noah and I watched as time after time others crashed into the banks of the river, not being able to keep up with the turns. Many of them where likely people who held onto the belief that the person at the bow just paddles while the person at the stern does the steering.

jason and noah consult the map
Jason and Noah consult their map

The canoe is a communal thing. It’s a place where both paddlers share a responsibility and work together to get to a destination. It’s a vehicle that allows two people to share a moment.

Watching Noah paddle I could see he gets that now. And that was a pretty big deal.

Jason Eke is the founder, director and producer of Trail Guide Pictures, a boutique film and entertainment company based in Ontario, Canada. Jason is also a big fan of Bending Branches’ canoe paddles! You can find plenty of his videos and films on his YouTube Channel.

(See the film A Place to Paddle: Wabakimi Provincial Park. This 33-minute film documents a canoe trip of Jason and Noah’s in central Ontario.)

More posts for you:

Canoe Trip Success with a Toddler
How to Raise Kids Who Love to Paddle
Bending Branches’ Wooden Canoe Paddles