Canoe Adventure

Friends & Mentors
Friends & Mentors

Learn some canoeing strokes and cooporation, without a canoe.


  • Pool noodles cut in half (or another object to be used as a paddle)
  • Optional: Pylons, hoops, ropes etc. for obstacles


Participants work in their canoe group to steer their canoe through the imaginary water by following the paddling instructions.


  1. Divide participants into groups of four and allow them to name their canoe and team.

  2. Give each participant half of a poodle noodle and have each group stand in a straight line. Ensure the groups are spread out from one another.
  3. Ask participants some questions about canoeing and paddling.

    - How do you hold paddle? Answer: You have one hand on the top, and the other hand is closer to the bottom. If you’re paddling on the right side, your left hand is on top, and your right hand is on the bottom.
    - If you want to go straight, and there are four people in the canoe, should you all paddle on the same side? Answer: No way. In order to go straight participants have to paddle on opposite sides of the canoe. In this activity, the first and third participant in each canoe will paddle on one side, and the second and fourth participant will paddle on the other side.
    - If you want to go forward, which direction does the paddle go in the water? Answer: The paddle goes from the front of the canoe to the back, this is the front stroke (to go backwards, you go back to front, this is the backstroke).
  4. In order to turn the canoe in this activity, all participants will paddle on the side they want to turn towards. To turn right, all participants will paddle on the right side. 
  5. Side stroke is when the bottom paddle is parallel to the side of the canoe, and you pull it towards the canoe or away from the canoe. If the paddle is going from the canoe and out on the right side, then the canoe is moving horizontally to the left. If the paddle is going towards the canoe on the right side, the canoe is moving to the right.
  6. Participants will stand in their line, and will walk around as their canoe.
  7. The leader will tell the participants how to paddle and steer:

    - Front stroke and straight
    - Backstroke straight
    - Front stroke, turn right (all participants paddle on right side)
    - Front stroke, turn left
    - Backstroke, turn right
    - Backstroke, turn left
    - Pry, move left (paddles on the right side go from the canoe and out)
    - Draw, move right (paddles on the right side go towards the canoe)
    - Pry, move right
    - Draw, move left
  8. When participants are doing the proper paddle strokes, they will walk and move as a group to do the designated turn, or walk straight, or go backwards, or move to the side.
  9. When participants turn, they will do a 90 degree turn. Unless the leader says “Turn the opposite way”, then participants will each turn around, and the participant who was at the back will now be the front participant.


  • Have two person canoes.
  • Allow groups to navigate through the area on their own, but they have to do the proper paddle strokes when turning. The front participant will be the leader, and will guide their group. 
  • Set up obstacles throughout the play area (pylons, hoops, rope) that participants have to avoid. 
  • Have this be an elimination game. If the leader sees any group gets too spread out, or does the wrong paddle stroke, then they get a letter. If a group spells S-I-N-K, they are out.
  • Participants can run instead of walking, but be sure they are aware of the other groups and always have their heads up.


  • Remove any safety hazards and obstacles from the activity area and remind participants to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their head up at all times.


No wrap-up is necessary for this activity.

Adapted from: