The deep blue waters of Cayuga Lake are one of the main reasons that tourists and locals alike flock to Ithaca. Because the Finger Lakes attract thousands of outdoor adventurists each year, Ithaca College Instructor Jennifer Miller decided it would be the perfect place to teach a new stand-up paddleboarding class.
Stand-up Paddleboarding was a one-credit course designed to introduce students to the concepts, skills and techniques of paddleboarding. The course, which was held Sept. 14–16, taught students about paddling techniques and how to correctly use the equipment. They also learned about water hazard awareness and board maintenance.
The class was run by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (RLS). Miller is certified by the American Canoe Association to teach canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Miller is also the owner of Paddle-N-More, a local paddle sports rental company. She said her passion for paddleboarding is what inspired her to teach the class.
“I’ve always been into paddle sports, but once I started my business, I really fell in love with paddleboarding,” she said. “I got into paddleboard racing too. I was actually following the race circuit all around the country. I went down to South Carolina, up to the Ottawa River, just going all over and finding races.”
During the first day of class, six students met at Stewart Park at 3 p.m. They first learned how to prepare their equipment for the water, which included inflating the paddleboards and fitting personal floatation devices. The students also learned about basic safety measures before heading out onto the water to practice different paddling strokes.
The next day, students headed to Stewart Park at 9 a.m. to begin the eight-hour class. Students once again prepared their equipment as Miller went over important points like the right amount of water to bring on a day trip and the correct type of shoes to wear. Next, the group headed out to the water where they learned and practiced passive victim rescue, which is a way to get an unconscious or physically unable paddler back onto their board.
The students also got to explore on the second day. The class paddled 2 miles from Stewart Park to the Ithaca Farmers Market, where they were able to grab lunch and browse the market. On the trip, Miller taught the class paddling etiquette, which included tips on how to interact with boats and fishermen.
Lexi Ryan, freshman outdoor adventure leadership and cinema and photography major, was the teaching assistant for the minicourse. She said watching students learn the new skills was really rewarding.
“The second day was the best day because you get to see the growth of the students,” Ryan said. “They have a whole day of class under their belts and had time to soak up all the information we have given them. It was really fun to watch all of the students grow as paddleboarders after only two days.”
The final day of class was spent on Owasco Lake in Moravia, New York. At the beginning of class, Miller and Ryan taught the students more advanced paddling maneuvers and then moved to stand-up paddleboard yoga. The rest of the class was devoted to improving skills that students asked to work on.
Emily Cartagine, a senior theatre production and design major, originally took the class so she could experience the lake.
“I wanted to learn how to actually paddleboard instead of just renting one and kind of just throwing the paddle into the water,” Cartagine said. “With this class, I learned how to paddleboard so I could do it well, with more longevity, so I’m not tiring out my arms. And I actually learned more about safety than I thought too.”
One of the reasons Miller started this class was to get more students out to Cayuga Lake.
“From being in business for the past eight years, a lot of alumni have told me that they’ve never been down to the lake before,” she said. “A lot of current students don’t get the chance to come down here either.”
Miller hopes to expand the minicourse, allowing for more classes and more students. She also wants to create a program through the Physical Activity, Leisure and Safety Program to train students to become paddleboard instructors and hopefully teach this class in the future.
Noah Schaefer, senior outdoor adventure leadership major, said he believes the RLS department is not well-known around campus. By offering a one-credit stand-up paddleboarding class, Schaefer thinks it will allow more students to be aware of and take part in the program.
“I want the entire Ithaca College student body, staff, faculty, everyone to know that our department exists and that we want to be utilized,” Schaefer said. “I want anyone who wears an IC shirt to know about us.”