Outdoors Safety
Credit: Kevin Callan

Every summer, I choose a theme to work my projects around.

A couple of years back, my canoe buddy, Andy Baxter, and I turned 50 and we decided to take on Algonquin’s Meanest Link—a two-week trip plagued by upstream travel and a grand total of 93 portages. The point of the trip was to prove that two old guys could complete such an insane trip as long as we took our time and immersed ourselves in our wild surroundings. And we did.

Last year, I travelled around Killarney Provincial Park for two weeks with my wife, dog and 10-year-old daughter. It was to emphasize quality family time spent in the woods, and show how not all of today’s youth are stuck inside playing video games. It was an amazing trip.

This season it’s all about promoting ethics, skills and safety. It seems to me there has been a growing problem with the lack of all three in the last few years, and I’m getting more and more concerned. A lot of people are trashing their campsites, getting lost and even getting killed. Something needs to be done. The question is, who is doing anything about it?

Just recently, two programs were launched to make paddlers safer. One is an online, free quiz organized by BoaterExam.com. The other is through Paddle Canada, dubbed PaddleSmart.

I‘ve looked at both projects and I applaud them. However, some may have some legitimate concerns. The BoaterExam.com quiz may eventually turn into a “licence to paddle,” just as motorboat operators are required to obtain a licence. I’m not 100 per cent sure that will happen, and I’m not sure if that’s even a bad thing when you look at the increased rate of paddlers drowning out there. Also, the PaddleSmart program is strongly volunteered based. The question is, will it decrease the number of drownings? What I mean is—will it be directed towards the right audience?

What do you think? Check these new programs out and let me know what your views are. Take the BoaterExam.com course and add your comments. Google the new PaddleSmart program and give me your two cents. I want you involved—because you’re most likely not the one who’s getting into trouble out there but you definitely have a point of view on how to stop it from happening.