SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Georgia River Network is launching its first full season of kayak and paddler safety classes designed specifically for paddlers who enjoy lakes and slow-moving rivers and would like to gain some skills to be safer and have more fun on the water. 

According to a recent press release from the Waterfall Foundation citing the latest data (2020) from the Outdoor Foundation, a record 37.9 million participants across the United States engaged in paddlesports during the pandemic. 

However, it increased accidents to 331 and fatalities to a record high of 202 — accounting for more than 26% of all boating fatalities that same year. 

More than one-third of victims had less than 10 hours of experience in paddlesports; experts cited lack of safety training as an important contributing factor. 

Georgia River Network classes are led by instructors certified by the American Canoe Association. Classes range from Intro to Kayaking and Intro to River Kayaking which offer an introduction to lakes, Class I rivers and basic paddling skills, to Rescue for Rec Boaters. 

The Rescue for Rec Boaters class will be offered only once this year, and gives entry-level paddlers a singular opportunity to experience a comprehensive approach to safety and rescue for paddlers that is designed for exactly the kinds of hazards they will encounter.

Classes for Rescue for Rec Boaters start on June 4 for lake day and June 5th for river day. Locations are Panola Mountain State Park and Lake Alexander. The cost is $85 per day or $140 for both days. For more information visit: https://garivers.org/paddle-georgia/rescue-for-rec-boaters/.

Introduction to River Kayaking (Class I River) can be taken on June 12 or July 30 at the Lower Chestatee River. The cost is $90 per person + optional kayak rental. For more information visit https://garivers.org/paddle-georgia/river-paddling-class/.

Introduction to Kayaking (Lake) July 9 Lake Jackson at Bear Creek Marina in Mansfield, GA. The cost is $75 per person + optional boat rental. For more information visithttps://garivers.org/paddle-georgia/lake-paddling-class/.

The Georgia River Network also offers a free mobile app, the Georgia River Guide, which highlights Georgia water trails and gives information about river accesses, outfitters and camping, and safety conditions.

More information about the Georgia River Network can be found at Home | Georgia River Network – Georgia River Network (garivers.org).