East Coast Paddlesports Symposium


The 28th annual East Coast Paddlesports Symposium is a 3-day immersion in the history, technique, hands-on experience, and fun of kayaking, canoeing, SUP, and more. The symposium is the heart of the Charleston Outdoor Fest, and paddling enthusiasts will not be disappointed. On-water basics and master classes are designed to enrich your symposium experience. Symposium participants will also have access to unlimited boat demos from the world's leading manufacturers, social opportunities with the world's top instructors, an event souvenir package, and much more.

I Love It! Where do I Begin?

Determine Your Skill Level

Assess your skills using the guidelines and descriptions below to best determine where you are as a paddler.

First-Time/Beginner Paddler
  • These courses are for those who have either never paddled or have received some basic formal instruction.
  • You should feel some level of comfort in the vessel.
  • You normally paddle in flat-water environments, but may have paddled in areas of wind less than 10 mph. You'll learn the basics of paddling on the James Island County Park lake and on other calm, protected bodies of water. 
  • The end-goal of a first-time or beginner paddler is to feel comfortable on the water, learn something new, and have some fun in a safe environment. 
All paddling begins with fundamental skills. As we move from basic to more advanced paddling, we refine these skills and are able to paddle in more challenging conditions. Mastery of fundamental paddling techniques with real-world application is what separates advanced paddlers from beginners. 

Intermediate & Up Paddlers
  • You can perform all of the desired skills of a beginner efficiently and effectively. 
  • You can paddle backwards, and maintain a course in wind and current. 
  • You should be able to brace for support. 
  • You should have the beginning of a basic roll in flat water. 
  • You are proficient with basic rescues and have an understanding of towing systems. 
  • You understand paddling theories like trip planning, group management, basic navigation, and equipment selection. 
  • You feel comfortable and confident in surf conditions for launching and landing your vessel. 
  • You should have a variety of experience in the cockpit and can perform all fundamental skills and deep water rescues in unfavorable weather conditions (winds up to 10-12 mph, moving water up to 3kts and/or swell/waves up to three feet).
Many courses bridge skill levels and are appropriate for more than one skill level. Each course is a group experience, and paddlers should be relatively close in skill level to ensure maximum learning potential. If you're unsure how to classify your skills, ask a paddlesports staff member or a course host/liaison at the symposium.