KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Summer may not be here yet, but Saturday marks the start of National Safe Boating Week. For the first time ever, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Canoe Association are teaming up to offer low-cost kayaking instruction.

According to the Tennessee Chapter of the American Canoe Association (ACA), Tennessee has led the state the last two years in river drowning deaths, they want to change that.

“We have some of the best waterways in the country,” said Scott Fisher with the Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute (NOLI). “Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in accidents and fatalities. In Tennessee, we’ve had the dubious kind of honor, if you will, of leading the country in fatalities the last couple of years.”

The ACA is the national accrediting body for paddle sports education. ACA-certified instructors will be hosting flatwater and river kayaking courses at 12 different state parks for just $15 on Saturday, May 21.

In Northeast Tennessee, a flatwater course will be offered at Warrior’s Path State Park and a river kayaking course at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.

Scott Fisher with Nolichucky Outdoor Learning Institute will teach flatwater courses at Warrior’s Path.

“This weekend we’re going to talk about boat anatomy we’re going to a lot more detail on what to look for in different types of boats,” said Fisher. “But again just make sure it’s rated or suitable for what you’re going to paddle it or where you’re gonna paddle.”

Fisher said they will cover everything from personal flotation devices to proper technique to what to do if you fall overboard.

“Type three, or rating a 70 [PFD],” said Fisher. “That means it’s Coast Guard approved for use say on a water and a kayak… you want to make sure that when you lift up on your lifejacket, it’s not going to come off your waist.”

They will be providing the kayaks, paddles, and life jackets at no extra cost if you mark that you need them when you sign up and the supplies are available.

Fisher said the course won’t just be about educating, they will make sure it’s fun for participants.

The Warriors Path classes are sold out, but there are still slots available at Davey Crockett. The Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts are leading the Kayaking 101 river class at David Crockett Birthplace State Park.

The classes will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Registration can be done at this link.

If you are unable to take an in-person class, there is also a free online class available, however, the ACA strongly recommends in-person courses. Online courses can be found here.