Your Smithfield Magazine Volume 6, Number 12 - July 2012
Valley Paddle Club
a fun way to explore area's
If you've ever driven past Stump Pond on a warm day, you know that it's a popular spot for kayakers and canoeists. On July 31st, the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club will visit the pond, a destination which is part of the group's schedule every summer.
"It's a favorite trip for a lot of people," explains Cheryl Thompson Cameron, club president. "They like to go under the bridge if the water is low enough. We explore the whole pond and enjoy the beauty- it's gorgeous there."
Stump Pond is one of more than a dozen
trips which the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club (BVPC) offers on Tuesday
evenings between May and August each year. A training night is also
offered at no charge one Thursday per month, and is open to anyone
interested in learning basic paddling strokes (this month's class will
be held at
Cameron notes that the club, founded in 2000 by the National Park Service as part of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, "was created to raise awareness of the recreational opportunities of the river." While they partner with the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association (RICKA), there are distinct differences between the two groups, RICKA's trips are generally longer, faster-paced, and go farther afield (such as the Adirondacks), while the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club covers the lakes and rivers in the area between Worcester and Providence. Approximately half of the trips are held in each of the two states, with park rangers leading one per month. A local historian accompanies several outings as well, in order to explain some of the historical significance of the area.
While the non-profit BVPC still receives some support from the National Park Service, it is now volunteer-led. There are 24 leaders, with approximately 8-10 on any given trip.
"We always delegate a couple of leaders to stay back with the slower paddlers, so that no one's left behind," Cameron says.
She adds that the
paddle club averages 100 members per year, with people joining from
local towns as well as from the
In order to participate in the Blackstone Valley Paddle Club events, it is necessary to have a non-inflatable, Coast Guard-approved life jacket, (included with rentals). A membership fee of $25.00 is also required, which includes membership in RICKA. The fee is waived for those renting a boat. People who already own a canoe or kayak can come on one trip as a guest before joining.
Membership information and this summer's schedule can be obtained at any club event or by going to RICKA's website, www.ricka.org and clicking on BV Paddlers. The BV Paddler section also includes a sign-up sheet for those interested in attending a training night, directions to the launch sites and information about the difficulty level of any given trip. Cameron notes that people with questions can call her at 401-647-5887 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cameron, who grew up
paddling with her father, says that the BVPC trip she considers the
"most ambitious" of the summer is schedule for August 14, when they will
cross over from Bold Point in
"I like rivers," she explains. "When you follow the river, you really get a sense of history."