1. I did a course last year, what course should I do this year?
If you took a course with us last year (2015) then you may have noticed that our course titles have changed and that they now align to the British Canoeing Star Award scheme.
Beginners - If you completed the "Beginners Paddling" course (equivalent to the "Basic" 1 Star Award) and you passed your assessment then you may consider one of the two "Fundamental" 2 Star Award courses (kayak, open canoe). If during the "Beginners" course you paddled just kayak or open canoe then you should consider completing the 1 Star Award in the other craft prior to commencing courses at the 2 Star level as the assessment at this level requires skills in both craft.
Improvers - If you completed one of our "Improver" courses last year (equivalent to the "Fundamental" 2 Star Award) in either kayak or open canoe then you should consider taking the 2 Star course in the other craft. Once courses in both craft have been completed at 2 Star level, together with the pre-requisite journeys, then you may consider preparing for your 2 Star Award assessment (for which a separate booking is required).
Gateway - If you completed your 2 Star courses, and preferably your assessment, you may wish to consider taking one of our 3 Star Award courses.
Special Note:- If following any of the courses last year you have not paddled since you may wish to consider repeating one the new courses at the same level so that you are adequately prepared for the next stage. Speak to the course leader if you have any further questions.
2. How can I find out more details about is involved in the Star Awards?
Details on each of the courses can be found by visiting the British Canoeing website (click here)
3. What is a Star Award assessment?
An assessment is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the skills that you have learned and developed under the skillful watch of a qualified assessor at the end of which, if successful, you can obtain a British Canoeing Star Award certificate. Usually, at the end of the assessment you get given a pass slip that you then complete and send off with a fee and the certificate will be posted to you. It is not unknown for paddlers who are being assessed not to pass all of the skills involved and in this event you will receive feedback / guidance on how to proceed and where you can get further help to gain the skill levels required.
4. I completed both of the Improver courses last year but did not take the Two Star Assessment what should I do?
You should consider completing your 2 Star assessment, however provided your skills are still at 2 Star level you can go ahead and book on one of the 3 Star courses.
5. Do I have to take a Star Award assessment
No, you do not have to take any of the Star Award assessments if you don't wish to do so. What is important is that you have the appropriate skills necessary for the next level of Star Award courses. The certificate given at the end of a successful assessment is confirmation that you have attained these skills and is a nationally recognized qualification. If in the future you are considering becoming a coach then having a certificate at 2 Star Award level is a requirement.
6. I only want to paddle in a kayak and I don't want to paddle an open canoe
Some paddlers are only interested in developing skills in a single craft (i.e. kayak, open canoe, sit-on-top etc.) which is okay. The British Canoeing scheme aims to provide paddlers with a breadth of paddling skills and experience at 1 and 2 Star Award levels but you can progress through the scheme to 3 Star level in a single craft if this what you wish to do.
7. I’m on the wrong course and wish to change, how do I do this?
Speak to the course leader at the start of the course, week one, to review alternative options for you.
8. Do I need to have personal insurance?
The Charity holds Public Liability Insurance. Participants’ own equipment, loss or injury is not insured at any time..
9. Do I need to book and pay online?
The online WebCollect booking and payment system that is linked to our website is our preferred method payment. If however, you do not wish to use this system you should email the course leader to discuss the options available and to ensure that a place is held for you.
10. I have special needs, will this affect me?
Paddlers with additional needs are welcomed onto our courses. Obviously the level of assistance required needs to discussed prior to booking on the course to make sure that we have the necessary facilities and voluntary staff available to work with you. In the past we have worked with a number of disabilities including partial sighted paddlers. Should you be unable to cope with the session we would discuss alternative arrangements with you.
11. Do I need to shower or wash after the activity?
The River Thames water quality whilst good is not absolutely clean and it is recommended that you shower after every canoeing activity and before eating any food. Any minor cuts should be covered and re-cleaned afterwards. If you have more significant injuries you may need to consider avoiding getting them wet to avoid any infections taking place. If you find yourself suffering from flu like symptoms with sickness we suggest you contact your Doctor and say you have been in the river and mention Weil's Disease.
12. What should I wear to take part in canoeing and will I get wet?
Whilst the course you are booked on may not involve in the water activities it is recommended that you should always come prepared for any accidental capsizes that may take place. When the course starts you should be told when the wet activities are planned. It is recommended that you wear:
- Wet suit type shoes or similar that are securely fitted (not clumpy large trainers)
- Leggings / trousers (not cotton jean or shell suit type materials) with optionally a wind proof waterproof over trousers for warmth.
- Several thin thermal layers (not cotton) with a waterproof type cagoule over jacket for warmth
- Think can I swim in what I am wearing ...you will however, be wearing a buoyancy aid at all times.
- Plastic bag suitable for initially placing your dry clothes and towel in and then any wet clothes for returning home.
13. Should I be able to swim and if so how far?
For the Basic 1 Star Award the guidelines are you should be water confident and ideally be able to swim (but not essential). For the 2 Star Award you should be able to swim 25m wearing a buoyancy aid. Courses including the Foundation Safety and Rescue course states that you should be able to swim in normal paddling clothing for the prevailing conditions.
14. I wish to use my own equipment including canoe, is this okay?
Speak to the course leader and describe what you wish to use. If the equipment is not of the required standard we reserve the right not to allow it to be used. In the majority of instances this is not an issue, especially with newer well maintained equipment, including clothing, canoes, spray decks and paddles.
15. If there are only a few booked on the course will it get cancelled?
Some courses require a minimum number of paddlers to be able to run. If the numbers are too low then an alternative course will be offered and/or a refund provided. Generally, courses can be adequately adapted to cope with mixed ability so we are confident that this should not be an issue for you.
16. What if the course I want is already fully booked?
If the course you would like is fully booked please contact the course leader and register your interest. You may need to wait until the next block of Summer courses (2 blocks x 6 week + 1 block x 7 week) or it may be possible to find vacancies on an alternative evening.
17. I wish to cancel my booking what do I need to do?
In the first instance speak to the course leader who will try to offer you an alternative date or course. If this is not possible then they will give you the details of our treasurer and arrangements can be made. The terms and conditions of your booking provide further details on the fee that may be charged (click here).
18. What time should I arrive for my course?
It is recommended that on the first evening of the course you arrive 15 minutes before the start to allow time for your payment to be checked, medical forms reviewed and to change into your activity gear. On subsequent weeks this can be reduced once you are familiar with the booking-in process.
19. I understand that everyone needs to complete a medical form, how do I get one?
Everyone is required to submit a completed and signed medical form that can be obtained from the website (click here). If you are under 18 years of age your parent / guardian is required to sign the form.
20. I wish to take part in some trips, how can I find out about when they are?
21. I have heard about the Trips Planning Meetings what happens at these meetings?
22. Who is the Charities Welfare Officer and how do I contact them?
23. Who will be running my courses?
Each course will be run by a qualified British Canoeing Coach who has DBS clearance who is a volunteer.
24. Can I go along to Sunday Morning paddling as a non-member?
You can go along to the Sunday Morning paddling as a non-member but unlike members a fee will be payable. You will also be required to bring a completed medical form with you. Your fee will cover the cost of canoe / equipment hire.
25. Why do I need a membership card?