top of page

A little bit about The Delmarva Padders Retreat

It was in 1988 that Charlie and Cindy Cole started The Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, an annual gathering of paddlers on the western shore of Rehoboth Bay in Lewes, DE, to exchange paddling skills and knowledge – since 2001 it has become an annual gathering at which Greenland-style sea-kayakers gather to celebrate the origins of kayaking and hone traditional kayaking techniques and skills. Whether you are looking to learn your first kayak roll, or develop an understanding of advanced traditional techniques, the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat is the place to do it.

It was Cindy Cole, who in August 2000, joined Harvey Golden and Greg Stamer, to compete in the first "open" Greenland National Championship. Two years prior to that landmark trip, Champion Greenlander Maligiaq Padilla had embarked on a tour of the United States and Canada. Few then realized the impact that tour, which began with a visit to the 10th Annual Delmarva Paddlers Retreat, would have on the development of Greenland kayaking in America. It was at the 2000 event in Greenland, and the subsequent Qaannat Kattufiat Board meeting, that the seeds of an American chapter were planted, leading to the formation of Qajaq USA at the 2001 Delmarva Paddlers Retreat. The Qajaq USA board often has its annual board meeting during the event.

Since 2001, the Delmarva Paddlers Retreat has transformed to become the first all Greenland, traditional paddling event of its kind in the United States. It has increasingly moved towards an extended gathering of Greenland enthusiasts, sharing traditional skills, qajaq construction, and the implications of traditional origins on modern kayaking. The event began to include, apart from instructional elements, distinguished invited speakers, and world class demonstrations and workshops.

Held at Camp Arrowhead on the western shore of Rehoboth Bay in Lewes, Delaware, the camp is located on a shallow, tidal bay with sandy beach access. All classes, meals and lodging are on the grounds of the camp, so it is not necessary to pack away your gear and boat daily. There is a swimming pool where demonstrations and some rolling classes are held. Lodging, food and most classes are included in the registration fee. Paddlemaking is available with an additional fee. Along with your registration form, you may indicate your preferences for classes and on-water sessions. We will do our best to accommodate you.

The Retreat unofficially begins on the Wednesday night with a dinner trip to Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats. Thursday is devoted to mentor training, board meetings and free paddles. Paddlers lucky enough not to have to attend all those meetings are welcome to explore, on their own, many of the various paddling venues the Lewes-Rehoboth Area has to offer. Thursday night is an evening of socialization and getting to know one another.  On Friday the Retreat is in full swing with classes and workshops beginning right after breakfast.  Friday and Saturday nights will find kayak dressage, auctions, guest speakers and presentations all in an informal sociable atmosphere. Sunday lunch ends the formal portion of the Retreat but many participants stick around and organize a BBQ Sunday night and head home Monday. Standard and extended stay plans and pricing are detailed elsewhere on this website. 

Lodging is in bunk style cabins or tenting under the pines. There is a bathhouse with toilet and shower facilities. Meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner through lunch on Sunday. Vegetarian meals are available as a preregistration option. We encourage family participation at the Retreat. The youth programs of QUSA are growing and proper respectfulness is appreciated.

Please see participant info section for more inclusive list of what to bring, but to start you will need a suitable sea kayak with bulkheads or flotation bags. PFD's are required at all times while on the water.  Since all instruction will be geared to Greenland techniques, a Greenland paddle is helpful. An opportunity to make your own is part of the extended program. You are certainly encouraged to bring any kayaks and paddles you have built. All levels of Greenland instruction are taught at the Retreat. QUSA will have some gear, tuiliks, paddles, and skin on frames for demonstration purposes. 

As part of the festivities we will have a raffle and an auction. We invite donations to the auction and raffle as the monies raised will help to defray expenses for mentors and special guests. Additionally, you may bring gently used gear to sell or trade on the white elephant table.

Because of the small and intimate nature of this event, registration often fills up prior to the registration deadline of September 15th.

bottom of page