The Path of the Paddle
Progressive Trek Patch

Path of the Paddle Patch

Path of the Paddle Home  Stillwater Experience  River Experience   Whitewater Experience  Rafting Experience  Ocean Experience  Voyageur Experience  Scale of River Difficulty  Path of the Paddle Forms

The purpose of the PATH OF THE PADDLE program is to encourage Paddlesports participation among Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts. The rivers of Northern California and the Pacific Ocean provide different settings for different Paddlesports experiences.  A Scout or leader who completes his first  PATH OF THE PADDLE adventure earns the center segment and a rocker.  Each completed outing earns one more rocker.

Some of the  PATH OF THE PADDLE outings are designed for a one-day experience; some are designed to require at least one overnight camp.  Any Scout who begins the PATH OF THE PADDLE must have completed the Boy Scout Swimmer test, and the Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense programs.  Completion of the  PATH OF THE PADDLE should provide opportunities to complete most of the outdoor requirements for the Canoeing and Whitewater merit badges.   Any unit going on a  PATH OF THE PADDLE Experience must have at least one adult leader who has completed the Paddlesports Awareness course of the  Mount Diablo-Silverado Council High Adventure Training , or the equivalent High Adventure Training as offered by another BSA Council.  The  PATH OF THE PADDLE is NOT intended for Cub Scouts or Tigers.

Weather is always an issue in outdoor travel; participants must have the equiment needed to follow the Safety Afloat guidelines, and should have any additional equipment needed for that experience, such as a helmet for Whitewater, a wet suit for Ocean, etc. 

Path of the Paddle Experiences

Paddling Experience
Suggested Sites
Lake Del Valle
American River, Russian River, Sacramento River
Monterey Bay, Point Reyes,
Elkhorn Slough,  Tomales Bay
Klamath River, Trinity River, Snake River, Colorado River, Eel River
Russian River, American River,
Klamath River, Trinity River, Snake  River, Colorado River,
American River, Russian River

A  PATH OF THE PADDLE experience should not be a quick put-in and take-out outing.  The Scouts should have an opportunity to learn and use the skills needed for each experience.  The Program does not specify the time taken, but it is strongly recommended that each experience be no less than a half-day  spent on the water.

nformation on each of the suggested Path sites is available from Park officials, tour guides, outfitters, the American Canoeing Association, etc.  The  PATH OF THE PADDLE patch requires a Float Plan and the appropriate Local or National Tour Permit for each outing.  Download Tour Permit  here.  A guideline for creating a Float Plan is here.

Please instruct your Scouts on the need to observe and obey the regulations that are in effect in National, State, and Regional Parks. On some trips you will be given the courtesy of passing across private property. Please repay these people's trust by keeping the area free of litter, respecting their property, and leaving the gates as you find them.  Observe the principles of Leave No Trace  (see
Other Scouting Paddlesports Adventures

The Boy Scouts of America National web site has a Directory of High Adventure Programs offered by the BSA local councils.  This directory can be searched for camps offering canoeing, kayaking, and whitewater programs.

Planning your Path of the Paddle Outings:

Planning is critical to a safe Paddlesports outing of any kind.  As with any High Adventure outing, the Scouts and the leaders must be trained before setting out.  The Guide to Safe Scouting must be read and followed.

All Scouts must have passed the  Second Class Swimming and First Aid requirement and the First Class Swimming and First Aid Requirements
All Scouts and leaders must follow the practices of the BSA Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat programs, in regards to training, preparation, equipment, etc.  Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat training are available online at the E-Learning section of

At least one leader must have completed Paddlesports Awareness High Adventure Training through the Mount Diablo- Silverado Council, or an equivalent program through another BSA Council.

The transportation plan for the outing should allow sufficient time for the adults who are driving to rest before beginning the return trip.  Please read the Risk Zone information in the  Guide to Safe Scouting.

Note on Outfitters, Guides, and Rental Agencies.

The Boy Scouts of America and the Mount Diablo-Silverado Council do not attempt to recommend or rank any commercial  Outfitters, Guides, and Equipment Rental Agencies.     All such companies and individuals mentioned here are done so as a point of reference only.  It is up to the individual unit to make sure that any outside company has adequate insurance, properly-maintained equipment, trained personnel, first-aid training and supplies, etc. 

Conservation and Advocacy, Organizations and Clubs

Note: The Boy Scouts of America does not control content on these organizations' websites.  Please look them up for information.

American Canoeing Association:  education, training, stewardship
American Kayak Association
Dreamflows: daily flow information on Western rivers
Friends of the River: Conservation and protection of the rivers of California.
National Outdoor Leadership School, home of many educational programs and resources.
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics 

Last update:  11/2/08