Before man conquered his fear of water, he amused himself with dust sports such as pushing boulders off cliffs, wrestling tumbleweeds, and falling in the dust. Boldly embrace liquid with today's Groupon: for $69, you get a beginner stand-up paddleboarding lesson at Valley Mill Kayak School, located in Potomac (a $139 value). Lessons take place at one of three aquatically educational locations within 25 minutes of Washington D.C., depending on river conditions. New paddleboarders are informed where their lesson will take place when they call ahead to schedule.
Valley Mill's American Canoe Association–certified instructors are personally trained by Eric Jackson, a former Olympian and world-champion freestyle kayaker. Embrace their seafaring tutelage with an introductory lesson in stand-up paddleboarding, a hybrid sport that bestows thrill-seekers with a surfboard-like flotation device and a single-bladed oar to navigate calm waters. For the introductory lesson, freshly sprouted sea legs will step onto the Stride Airlite HD, a soft-surfaced paddleboard. Paddleboarding basics will be covered over the course of three nautically navigational hours, such as gear education, water safety, knee paddling, various stances, effective paddling and stroking techniques, and how to get back on the board after jumping in the water to avoid seagulls handing out "Vote Dolphins in 2012" pins.
Valley Mill provides all necessary equipment for the three-hour lesson. All participants must know how to swim and should bring footwear that will securely cling to the feet during paddleboarding, swimming, and marathons of in-water hacky sack.
Valley Mill Kayak School
Since 1956, Valley Mill Kayak School has trained countless kayakers, including the first kayaking recipients of Olympic medals, on the deep waters of the Potomac River. A former Olympian and four-time freestyle-kayaking world champion, Eric Jackson personally designs the school's lesson plans around modern whitewater-paddling techniques. Eric trains each of the school's American Canoe Association–certified instructors, who, in turn, dispense their knowledge to beginners and proficient paddlers alike.
Through a wealth of small classes, private lessons, and occasional clinics taught by Eric himself, pupils discover such skills as paddling and basic strokes, or attempting to work your kayak into rhythmic-gymnastics routines.