Monday, April 15, 2024

Paul Smiths: Inaugural Adirondack Youth Paddling Symposium set for July

kids in canoes

Symposium includes four days of beginner instruction for kids ages 8-15

Paul Smiths, NY — The inaugural Adirondack Youth Paddling Symposium is set for July 15-18 at the Paul Smith’s College Alumni Campground. Presented by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), Matt Burnett Guiding, St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters and NRS, the Youth Paddling Symposium will provide four days of beginner instruction for kids ages 8-15.

“This is an opportunity for kids who’ve never paddled or camped before to learn the basics,” said Matt Burnett. “We shouldn’t take for granted that people who grow up in wild places intrinsically know the skills needed for overnight adventures in the woods. Our goal with this Symposium is to help newcomers get their feet wet — figuratively and literally — in a safe and supportive environment.”

“Paddling is among the most popular outdoor, life-long activities in the Adirondacks, but it can be inaccessible for some families who don’t have the time or means to teach their kids the skills to enjoy it safely,” said Karrie Thomas, the NFCT’s executive director. “We hope this event will introduce a new cohort of kids to the sport we love.”

Instruction will be led by Matt Burnett, an experienced Adirondack guide who has been leading overnight paddle trips with kids in partnership with the NFCT for over 10 years, with support from Matt Smith. The itinerary includes:


  • Introduction to camping (setting up tents, building campfires, shelter building, first aid)

  • Introduction to paddling & paddling safety

  • Introduction to fishing

  • Paddling excursions

  • Campfire storytelling

The Youth Paddling Symposium costs $250/kid, which covers all costs including gear, food and instruction. Kids do not need to own outdoor gear of any kind to participate. Scholarships to cover the cost of participation are available; email to learn more.

To register and for more information, visit

Additional support for the Adirondack Youth Paddling Symposium is provided by Paul Smith’s College and the Uihlein-Ironman Sports Fund at Adirondack Foundation.

For more information about the NFCT, visit

About the Northern Forest Canoe Trail:

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a nonprofit organization that maintains and promotes the 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge, NY, to Fort Kent, Maine, and connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine. The trail showcases the mix of landscapes and communities currently lining the traditional routes used by Indigenous peoples, settlers and guides. It is the longest in-land water trail in the nation and consists of 23 rivers and streams, 59 lakes and ponds, 45 communities and 65 portages. To learn more, visit

Photo at top: Kids hone their paddling skills during a Northern Forest Explorers trip in summer 2023. Photo provided by Matt Burnett Guiding.

Related Stories

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *