Canoecopia is big success for Coast Guard Auxiliary

Photo of Canoecopia

MADISON, Wis. - Coastie, a robotic boat, and Coast Guard Auxiliarist Maureen Van Dinter playfully instruct a man to drop and give them five pushups, with the man's son joining in on the fun, after the man admitted to not always wearing his life jacket. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary didn’t shy away from the thousands of paddlesport enthusiasts who showed up in Madison, Wis., March 9-11, 2012, for the world’s largest expo for canoes, kayaks, paddling and camping gear. Canoecopia – an annual event where attendees can test and buy equipment, watch instructional demos, witness presentations by experts in the industry, and socialize with other paddling enthusiasts – draws in about 25,000 visitors each year, making it an ideal time to share life-saving safety tips with both novice and experienced paddlers.

Although some might consider the three-day time commitment a big undertaking, men and women from Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 45-01 of Madison, Wis., eagerly stepped up to the plate by volunteering their time and knowledge to organize the Auxiliary’s participation during the weekend extravaganza. Also represented were watchstanders from the following flotillas: Flotilla 45-08 of Lodi, Wis., Flotilla 47-04 of Sheboygan, Wis., and Flotilla 02-02 of Winona, Minn., reflecting the regional aspect of Canoecopia.

Photo of Canoecopia

MADISON, Wis. - Coast Guard Auxiliarist and paddlesport expert Jeff Noltner (in canoe) explains to Auxiliarist Ryan Weber how the Auxiliary's dry-land simulator works. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

There were 12 Auxiliarists who rotated shifts throughout the three-day weekend, with half working multiple shifts, ensuring the Coast Guard was well represented the entire time.

The volunteers handed out 4,000 paddlecraft identification stickers and spoke to hundreds of paddlers about how to stay safe on the water.

“It was a great experience, and we’re glad we had such an amazing opportunity to share safety messages with thousands of paddlers,” said Diann Kiesel of Flotilla 45-01. “We were impressed that so many of the paddlers knew about and practice safety procedures as well as the eagerness of new paddlers to learn.”


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