Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between all the programs?

The High Performance, Summer Program and the Masters programs are for those who want to learn to paddle and compete in the Olympic style racing canoes and kayaks. Masters Sprint programs are for those 25 years of age or older. The Summer Camp programs are two week sessions for children and youth between the ages of 8 and 13 who want to learn to paddle in recreational canoes and who may want to “try out” Cheema.

I've paddled a canoe at the cottage. Is that what you do?

Yes and no. The Cheema Aquatic Club is primarily a canoe and kayak sprint racing organization. Sprint racing is done in flat water using specially designed boats. We provide equipment, coaching, and programs for everyone from beginners to international level athletes. We also have a fleet of recreational canoes and kayaks designed for pleasure and novice use. There are lessons in the spring and summer to teach you how to use these boats safely and/or improve your paddling skills.

Are the racing boats tippy?

Yes, when you first use them, but there is a succession of kayaks that beginners use. The most stable is called a "slender". As you gain confidence, you can use narrower and lighter boats. Racing canoes are narrower and lighter than recreational canoes. The paddler kneels on one knee with the other foot in front. It's a challenge to stay up the first time. Some people learn more quickly than others, but it really doesn't matter how long it takes to get comfortable in a racing boat.

If I join, do I have to race?

For summer program paddlers, racing is a part of the program after U11. If paddlers are away for a regatta it is very important that the coach knows well in advance. When one paddler is missing, it could mean that 13 others do not get to race. If the coach knows in advance, he can put a spare in the crew and everyone is happy! Regatta schedules are posted on the website and on the Atlantic Division website ( and the coaches will communicate the schedule as well. We usually have the schedule by Spring so that vacations can be planned.

My kids are already involved with summer sports. What's special about sprint racing or kayak racing?

Children at the Cheema Aquatic Club work with experienced coaches whose goal is to help the paddler develop confidence and skills at his or her own rate. The emphasis is on safety, personal development, and fun. The focus on individual goals makes the sport well suited to young athletes with developing ability, co-ordination and strength. Paddlers train in crew boats (with two or four paddlers) as well as singles, so it is both a team and individual sport. Those who want to try racing have many chances during the summer, no matter what their ability level.
Our kids get to rub shoulders with National and Olympic team members everyday. Can you imagine practicing hockey with Sydney Crosby? Dreaming big is easy to do here, travelling and competing around the world is one of the perks!

What's the best age to start sprint racing?

Some children start at age 9 or 10. Others start later. In 2007 there were sprint-racing beginners aged all the way from 8 to 63 at the Cheema Aquatic Club.

Do you have to buy a boat?

No. The club provides all the equipment. After a few years, many paddlers choose to buy a paddle or boat, but this is never required. Most paddlers buy their first boat when they begin spring training in Florida when they are first year U17.

Would you recommend this sport to children?

Yes, if you'd like them to spend the summer (and fall, winter, and spring as well?) doing something healthy with positive with helpful role models and friends in an outdoor setting. The whole family can, and often does get involved. The only problem is that paddling can be addictive and before you know it, you may be spending much of the summer with other paddling individuals and families, on and around the water. *Note to parents: sprint race training is an energetic experience for teenagers. They are generally far too focused and tired to get into mischief during the long summer weeks.

The word "Club" scares me a bit. Is it really OK to get involved if I've never paddled before?

The Cheema Aquatic Club is a building, a fleet of recreational and sprint racing boats, and most important, a large group of people who share a love of water. Like all amateur sports organizations, it is run by volunteers. New members are always welcome - many people get involved when their children are participating in one of Cheema's many programs.

How can I find out more information about Cheema Aquatic Club? Where can I get a registration form?

You can download registration forms on the registration page. The form can be brought to registration or mailed in with the payment.

When do the summer programs start and finish?

Programs usually start the first day of July that falls on a weekday. All paddling groups except the camps start then. Camp paddlers usually start the first Monday of the first full week of July. (see each year’s calendar) The staggered start of the programs enables us to get underway in an organized fashion. The summer program runs till the last week in August, before Labour Day weekend.

At what age can my child start the paddling program? Do they need to be a strong swimmer?

A child must be at least 8 years of age on January 1 . Children should be able to swim 50 m. Kids will be given a swim test prior to beginning the paddling program.

Do my children need lifejackets or lifebelts to paddle?

All paddlers in the 15 and under age brackets must wear a flotation device. Parents must provide lifejackets for paddlers in the U11 group (under 10). A lifebelt or a life jacket is required from age 11- 15. Life jackets can be purchased from Canadian Tire or many other locations. Life belts can be purchased through Cheema at registration or contact the summer supervisor during the summer months.

How many people paddle a War Canoe? What is a bun used for?

A war canoe consists of 14 paddlers and a coxswain. It's a real team effort. The bun is placed under your knee to cushion it and can be purchased from the club.

Who participates in regattas? Where do they take place and how do I get there?

Regattas are lots of fun. We encourage all paddlers to attend regattas and help out their team members. Paddlers should be ready for their races and be prepared to be a spare. Each regatta is for a specific age group. Most regattas are within 20 to 45 minutes of Cheema and paddlers must find their own way to the regatta. Everyone should help load and unload the boat trailer before and after the regatta.

Why does Cheema need Fundraising and Corporate Sponsors?

The revenues raised from registration are not enough to cover the operation costs of the Club. We depend on funds generated from fundraisers such as the Annual Auction and  Paddle-a-thon, etc. and our Corporate sponsors to keep our Club in operation. Can you or your employer help us by donating time, materials or funds? The volunteers at Cheema also provide a huge service by donating their time.

What is the orgin of the name Cheema? Was that the name of your founder, or is it a first nations word?

Cheema is a MiKmaq word which means "to paddle a canoe"

Do lessons run all day long for our children?

The summer program runs from 9 am to 4 pm. We open the gates at 8 am and close at 5 pm. While the program does not run the full hours, supervision is available for your child.

Is there an Orientation Night for the summer program?

Yes, the orientation night will be held late in June at the Club. Parents of children involved in the summer paddling and 2 week camps are encouraged to attend - especially first year members.

If you have other questions, please go to the Contact Us page and send them to us.