Find a Paddle? Keep the Paddle. The Paddle in the Park Contest is the Coolest Hide and Seek Game Ever

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

What started out as a funny idea to get more people out enjoying nature and the wilderness, the Paddle in the Park Contest has blossomed into one of the coolest, awesomest, bestest contest I’ve read about in quite a while.

Now in its second year, the contest is pretty simple. Canoe paddle manufacturer, Badger Paddle partnered up with Preston of to find a bunch of celebrity paddlers and authors to go out and hide six paddles along the portage trails in Algonquin, Temagami and Killarney areas. Between now and September 15th they will be sending out clues to help campers figure out where the paddles are hiding.

Find a paddle along the trail? It’s yours!

Just try to name a cooler contest out there, just try.

With the contest just getting going, I got in touch with co-owner of Badger Paddle, Fiona Westner-Ramsay to tell me all about it:

1) Tell us about the Paddle in the Park Contest. Where did the idea come from?

The idea actually came from some content I created for our online BADGER® Paddle followers. I made up an infographic that listed a number of scientifically proven benefits of spending time in nature. I felt very strongly about the information it contained and I suddenly became very passionate, not only about getting people to recognize the rewards of spending time "Out There", but to actually get more people out into the wilderness so they could actually reap some of the actual rewards themselves.

I was having conversation on the phone with my friend and co-conspirator in many things, Preston Ciere of, and I just put it out there. I asked him what he thought about the idea of hiding our canoe paddles along undisclosed portage trails. He was totally diggin' the idea immediately, which wasn't very surprising considering he is such a big advocate for getting people out there. I also remember saying that Mike and I couldn't do it alone and asked if he would help. He agreed immediately. However, once we put the idea across to Hap Wilson and Kevin Callan, they were both so completely in support of the idea that they both wanted to hide paddles! So we decided to take advantage of Hap, Kevin, and Preston's interest in hiding paddles and, in the end, went with "celebrity" paddle-hiders and am I ever glad we did! They brought the contest to a whole new level and because of that, that many more people got "Out There" last year looking for paddles and the everyday rewards that a backcountry canoe trip can bring.

7 reasons you should spend time in the wilderness infographic.

2) What is the most memorable story or occasion you have from last season that you wish to share?

One of the craziest stories that were shared with us was told to Preston by two brothers. Convinced they knew where the paddle hidden on a portage off Lake Opeongo in Algonquin was, the two siblings rode their mountain bikes on the logging roads to the portage they were looking for.

Unable to locate the hidden paddle, the one brother insisted it was just at the portage on the other side of the small lake they came to. Without a vessel to carry them across the water, he decided to swim the “short distance” to the next portage.

Taking much longer than thought and more tired than he expected, the waterlogged brother made it to the portage across the water. But no luck. Swimming back empty handed, the brothers wondered if someone had already come across the hidden paddle and they were too late.

A couple of weeks went by and the brothers soon learned that the paddle was right where they suspected. Unfortunately the swim proved too much as the poor guy was so exhausted, he failed to spot the paddle once he made the crossing.

The paddle was instead found by kayaker, Chris Hocking, who had never been to Opeongo but ventured there because - and only because - of the Paddle in the Park Contest.


3) The contest is in its second year now, what’s new this time round?

This year we have a few really exciting and interesting new features. The biggest news for this season would probably have to be that we are giving away a canoe (generously donated by Nova Craft Canoe).

We also have some other really great sponsors who have, through their own generosity, helped to make the PITPC 2014 season even better than we could have dreamed! Preston, Mike and myself are very grateful to each and every one of them, and encourage all PITPC followers to support all of our wonderful sponsors and follow their online media as well.

paddle in the park paddle

Other exciting news is that we are adding more paddles to the lot for this year and we have also included more paddle hiders. Along with returning hiders Hap Wilson, Kevin Callan, and Preston Ciere, we have confirmed author Conor Mihell. Also added to the mix is the “portage queen” Andrea Wilson - who was an unofficial paddle hider last year. She will be hiding a special "Girls Portage" paddle to help celebrate women in the outdoors. We have also invited former paddle-seeker and paddle-finder Doug Gordon from last year’s contest. If you recall, good friends Doug and Tim set out specifically to find the paddle hidden in Killarney and did not come back empty handed. Their story was so well received that it was even featured by Kevin Callan on his Explore Magazine blog and in a presentation at TedX Algonquin.

We also will be releasing a new, fuller version of Jerry Vandiver's song, "My Ontario Journey". But that is not all... This year we scrap any and all plastic and instead of a paper card alerting the paddle finder that they have indeed just won a paddle to take home with them, we have designed a laser engraved wooden “card” that does not require plastic protection. This wooden tag will become a great keepsake for the paddle finder as well. We have lots of other great canoe tripping prizes again this year as well. But what has not changed is the fact that whether you find a paddle or not, the rewards are always "Out There"!


4) How many paddles are hidden this year waiting to be found?

We have 8 paddles to be hidden in the backwoods of Ontario. They are named after several of our main sponsors as follows:

  •          The Algonquin Outfitters Paddle (1 of 3)
  •          The Algonquin Outfitters Paddle (2 of 3)
  •          The Algonquin Outfitters "GIRLS PORTAGE" Paddle (3 of 3)
  •          The Nova Craft Canoe Paddle
  •          The Happy Camper Paddle
  •          The Cabin Falls EcoLodge Paddle
  •          The Killarney Outfitters Paddle
  •          The Canadian Canoe Museum Paddle


5) Who decides to where to stash a paddle? Is it planned out or you just find a location that looks like somebody will find it but not right away?

Unfortunately I cannot answer this question without giving away too many of the details (details which will come over the summer in the form of word clues). However I can answer you this question in the form of such a clue now:

You don't have to go to Timbuktu
To know the lakes or rivers they canoe
Read or follow to know what is true
As sometimes the clue, is in the who

paddle in the park paddle 2

6) If I find a paddle out on the trail what do I do with it?

If you come across a paddle (camouflaged in a black paddle sock) out on the portage trail, first thing you should probably do is smile and let out a little yell of excitement... Because you just became the owner of a canoe paddle that many people were seeking to find! Next, you should read the wooden tag instructions while letting it sink in that you have considerable bragging rights as well as the new coveted title of "Paddle-finder". Then be sure to take the paddle out of the Canadian-made BADGER® Paddle Sock and snap a paddle-selfie (or have one of your paddling partners take a photo of your with your new Paddle in the Park Contest canoe paddle). Then continue on the rest of your canoe trip, taking your new paddle, sock, and keepsake tag with you. Once you get back home (or to some sort of civilization), contact the us with your story and your picture (hopefully lots of pictures!) and we will send you even more great prizes - as well as include you in a chance to win a Prospector 16 canoe from Nova Craft. Then smile again because as soon as you let us know that you found a paddle, we give away a prize pack to another lucky paddler following the contest from home.

And finally, the last step you should probably take is to tell as many people as possible about how rewarding it is to spend time in nature. Because that is what this contest is all about!

More info:
Photo's supplied by Badger Paddle

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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