With so many rivers, lakes, streams, and other waterways in northwest Montana, it’s only natural that the people living here would seek to explore and recreate on them.
For fast-water travelers, such as those who play in whitewater, having the right equipment and training are key to safe, successful paddling days. But getting proper training in such sports can be expensive, a truth Paul Moffatt and the rest of the team behind Montana Kayak Academy know well.
“A lot of the sports we play are pretty expensive, so it’s hard to get in at an early age,” Moffatt said.
He and his friends discovered their love for kayaking once they were old enough to pay for it, but that shouldn’t be the reality for everyone, he said.
“We didn’t get into it until our late 20s and early 30s and we always have the what if: what if we’d gotten into it earlier?” Moffatt said.
With that in mind, the Montana Kayak Academy, a new nonprofit in the valley, will host a series of free, introductory instructional kayaking clinics for kids of the valley, ages 8 to 18.
Moffatt said the classes will be broken up into two age groups, with 8 through 13 in one and 14 through 18 in the other to allow for skill, size, and development differences.
The goal is to have instructors certified through the American Canoe Association teach fully insured clinics, he said. And not only will the clinics show the valley’s youth the ins and outs of piloting a kayak, but the MKA hopes to partner with local schools as well. Moffatt said Ridge Mountain Academy is already interested.
Moffatt hopes to have the main program up and running by spring, and to help pay for it, there is a fundraiser on Thursday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Boat Club at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.
There will be live music from Moonshine Mountain, as well as “awesome” raffle prizes and silent auction. Participants at the fundraiser can sign up for a free paddling clinic on Whitefish Lake on Aug. 23, running from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The Aug. 23 clinic will include 10 to 15 certified instructors, Moffatt said, and possibly 30 boats.
“It could be a big armada,” Moffatt said.
For more information, including on how to donate, visit the MKA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MontanaKayakAcademy.com.
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