Free canoe and kayak rides and lessons in Elmira on Saturday


Everyone from children to senior citizens can learn basic canoe and kayak paddling skills, boating rules and equipment and ride in a giant 11-passenger canoe from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on June 29 at the Grove Street Boat Launch in Elmira.

Chemung River Friends, the AHWAGA Canoe & Kayak Club and the Chemung County Sheriff’s Department will provide equipment, instructions and guided paddle rides on a slow-moving and easy section of the Chemung River.

Southern Tier Kayak Tours will offer free guided rides on a 26-foot-long Voyageur canoe.

It’s all free and offered by Chemung River Friends to encourage more people to enjoy safe and fun river recreation and a visit with nature.

“If you have never paddled a canoe or kayak, this is a convenient and fun way to learn and enjoy paddling with experienced paddlers in a safe section of the river,” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “We want people to learn basic paddling and water safety skills before they do a paddle trip on their own. It’s also an opportunity to try out a canoe or kayak before buying one at a store.”

From 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Chemung County Undersheriff Sean Holley, a certified New York State Marine Patrol Officer who teaches safe boating classes, will give a presentation on safe

boating, equipment needs and state rules and regulations regarding motor and paddle boats. The class will be taught on land.

“The public is welcome to bring their paddle and motorboats for Sean to do a safety inspection, and make recommendations for additional equipment,” Pfiffer said. “We want the boats to be as safe as the paddlers.”

Participants will learn how to enter and exit the boats, basic paddle strokes, what to do it you tip over, life vest safety, river rules and how to be an environmentally responsible paddler. No one will purposely be dumped in the water, but participants may get wet while getting in and out of the boats.

The participants will paddle within a quarter-mile section of the river, upstream from the Walnut Street Bridge in a deep, slow-moving and easy section of the river.

Audience participants are advised to wear shorts or bathing suits, sneakers or hard-soled shoes (no flip-flops) and bring sunscreen. Pre-registration is not required, but is requested, by going to and typing in “Chemung River Free paddle lessons.” You can also register the day of the event.

The paddle class and rides will be cancelled if the river is too high or there are lightning storms. For more information, contact Pfiffer at 607-846-2242 or

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