Intro to Kayak (Pool)

Genoveva Chavez Community Center
3221 Rodeo Road
Santa Fe, NM, 87507
See map: Google Maps
Start Time: 
Monday, May 16, 2011 - 5:30pm - 8:30pm
New Mexico Kayak Instruction

Introduction to Kayaking (level 1) is a 4-hour clinic teaching you the basic skills needed to paddle any type of kayak. This includes sit on tops, recreational, touring, whitewater and inflatable kayaks.

Accident reports studied by the American Canoe Association indicate the vicitms had little or no formal training in kayaking.  70 % of all accidents happen on flat water, with no current.  It appears that the simplicity of the design is often misinterpreted as an indication that the boats are simple to operate and inherently safe.  Most victims probably would not consider themselves as a "kayaker" and therefore do not seek out kayaking-specific instruction, such as how to do smooth and controlled wet exits, simple rescues that anyone can perform, reading the river or dressing appropriately for kayaking.

We believe Kayaking can be fun and easy if you learn the right techniques.  It has little to do with strength or age, and much more to do with finesse, techique, and confidence learned through formal training. 

Here's a few things you'll learn:

  • 5 misunderstood concepts to effortless paddling
  • 6 simple rescues that anyone can do in deep-water
  • 4 myths to an effortless roll
  • 9 essential strokes and skills you should master before learning the Kayak Roll, Whitewater or Touring classes

You'll also learn the most stable ways to enter and exit the kayak from shore, as well as how to quickly exit and re-enter a capsized kayak in deep water. A variety of self-rescues, including the Kayak Roll and assisted rescues are demonstrated throughout the class. You'll learn the basic strokes and body mechanics to paddle efficiently, comfortably and confidently in any direction on lakes and easy flat water rivers.

Learn the safest, most efficient way, while saving time and money in this Intro to Kayak class.


Succeeding courses: 
Essentials of Recreational Kayaking (level 2)
The Kayak Roll (level 2)

2-day Whitewater Weekend (level 3)
2-day Coastal Kayaking on Inland Waters (level 3)

Note: Level 2 is not required for Level 3, but may be beneficial for those wanting to start out at a slower pace, or for those simply interested in recreational kayaking. 

Meet the Instructors:
Our instructors are our greatest assets. Each of our instructors are certified by the American Canoe Association (ACA). Founded in 1880, and funded largely by the US Coast Guard, the ACA is a nation-wide not for profit organization whose role is to make paddling education and instruction standardized and more accessible to the public.  Our instructors are certified to the highest levels, up to and including:

Level 2 Stand Up Paddling (or SUP'ing) Instructor
Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor
Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor
Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor-Trainer
Level 4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor-Trainer
Level 4 Whitewater Paddle Raft Instructor-Trainer
Level 5 Advanced Swift Water Rescue Instructor

Instructors who work with kids are required to pass the same background and fingerprinting checks as required by Albuquerque Public Schools.

Our instructors are also leaders in their communities, and in their professions. 

View Instructor Credentials here

Our Guarantee:
You'll learn more in this 4-hour class than most people would learn in several seasons of informal training.  We're so confident your skills will increase, that we'll guarantee it!  If you don't feel more confident, more in control and more excited about paddling, we'll donate your course fees to your favorite charity, in your name!

Note: The Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe is only available for 3hr blocks of time, so all Intro to Kayak and Kayak Roll classes are 3hrs instead of 4hrs.  To ensure all topics are covered, and everyone receives individual attention during this limited time, class sizes are strictly capped to seven (7) for the Intro to Kayak class and five (5) for the Kayak Roll class.
$80.25 Before Tax
A $25 non-refundable deposit is needed to reserve your spot in class. Classes are booked on a first-paid, first-reserved basis, so send in your deposit today!

I chose NMKI because of Kelly's professionalism and strong attention to detail.  I find this very important as it relates to safety.  I would never trust anyone other than Kelly to provide instruction to myself or for my 12 year old son, Navada.  We felt very safe and well guided under the direction of Kelly.  I would tell others if they ever hesitated to try kayaking, River Boarding or any kind of paddling to first take a course with Kelly and rest assured they will be in good hands.

Nina Perea
Very informative class.  Just the ticket to lay the foundation for starting out in kayaking.
Todd Gates

Frequently Asked Questions

Children 10 years or older can attend any flatwater lesson with a parent or guardian with legal responsibility.  However, I leave it to the parent or guardian to keep the children focused and engaged throughout the class.  Children under 10 years old can be taught in a private lesson.


A non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The deposit is non-refundable, and non-transferrable. We gladly accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover over the phone.  Checks can be made payable to:

"NMKI" (New Mexico Kayak Instruction)
5800 Osuna Rd NE #64
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Please let us know when your check is in the mail so we can be looking for it.

Classes are booked on a first-paid, first-reserved basis, so mail your checks early, or call 505-217-2187 to pay by credit card.

The non-refundable deposit goes to reserve your spot and cover certain fixed cost, like pool rental, insurance and assistant instructors. It's a two-way guarantee that you will do your best to attend, and that I will save a spot for you, provide you with a properly fitted kayak, and provide assistant instructors as needed, to keep the Student to Instructor ratio in check.

If you cannot attend, try to find someone who can take your spot, and work the deposit out between the two of you. They should contact me as soon as possible to ensure space is avaialble, and provide me with their height and weight, so I can bring the right sized kayak.

If, and only if, a class is full, can the deposit be refunded, or transferred to a different date.

Yes.  A lot of great material is covered in the classroom, and you'll learn a lot by attending or repeating the classroom lessons (and they're FREE!!).  However, the classroom material is completely independent of the pool lesson.  It doesn't matter which one you attend first.

The Intro to Kayak clinic is the foundation for everything I teach. It's a required prerequisite for the 2-day Whitewater Weekend clinics and the 2-day Touring Kayak Weekend clinics. The Kayak Roll is a good next step after the Intro to Kayak clinic, although not a requirement for the Whitewater or Touring Kayak Weekend clinics.

While learning to roll is a good skill, it's not the best place to start.  Rolling is a defensive measure.  Good boat control, judgement and an accurate assessment of your skills will keep you from rolling most of the time. 

You'll learn boat control in the Intro to Kayak and subsequent clinics. Those who complete the Intro to Kayak class have a much higher success rate in the Kayak Roll clinic.  A few hours in the boat learning to do smooth and controlled wet exits from a skirted kayak will be money well spent.  If you've spent little or no time in a decked kayak, your mind will simply be too distracted by flipping over and getting out to learn the Kayak Roll.

Flipping in a kayak (or "falling over") is part of the learning process, especially for beginners.  Like learning to walk, ride a bike, or snowboard - falling happens from time to time.  As our skills improve, frequency that we flip or fall, will be few and far between.  First, we should become comfortable doing a "wet exit" when it's upside down. This is covered at length in the "Intro to Kayak" class, and briefly in the "Kayak Roll" class; each in an indoor, heated pool.  The Wet Exit is incredibly simple and easy to do, and I'll demonstrate this procedure first, and will stand beside each person as they do it a few times.   It's very easy for the instructor to roll you back over, for the added assurance that you'll be OK.  It should get easier and easier, so that you're no longer afraid.  The "Kayak Roll" (or 'Eskimo Roll') is demonstrated a few tims in the "Intro to Kayak" class, but is beyond the scope of the 'Intro' class, thus is not formally taught.  To learn the Kayak Roll, check out the Kayak Roll class.  By practicing these skills, using good judgement and managing certain risk, we should be over-prepared for most adventures on flat water.
Guided tours are great because they introduce the paddler to the many opportunities available to them in a kayak. Some guides do a great job of teaching, especially multi-day tours, where emdurance and efficiency are essential. However, most guided tours teach only what is necessary to be safe that day. For example, they may explain how to do a "wet-exit", but may not teach the steps or go through the motions with you to build your confidence. Rescues may be performed as needed, but generally are not taught. Similarly, strokes and safety concepts are discussed in broad terms to help you have a fun and safe experience.   At New Mexico Kayak Instruction, we want you to get the most from your lesson with us. If we know you've been on a guided tour in the past, or taken another instructor's "Intro" course, we'll challenge you in more advanced ways, building on your existing foundation and fine-tuning your technique so you're moving your boat safely, confidently and effortlessly across the water.
Not at this time. Many companies charge an "equipment rental" fee in addition to the lesson. At New Mexico Kayak Instruction, we include the equipment with the lesson. We encourage you to learn these techniques in your own boat. However, if your boat doesn't fit properly, is inappropriate for the class (a recreational boat in a whitewater or rolling class, for example), or you're interested in demoing a new boat, we will gladly bring one for you no charge.


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