Bellyaks and Summer Camp: Fun With A Purpose

Why Summer Camp?

Developing Life Habits

The worst part about summer camp is that it often creates a lifelong obsession with the outdoors. I have always loved to swim and after learning to kayak at a summer camp in Vermont, I’ve based most of my major life decisions around access to lakes and rivers. From playing kayak games on the lake to running rivers around the country, summer camp planted the seed. Who knows how my life could have turned out had it not of been for summer camp!

Summer Camp: Fun with a purpose!

Why Bellyak?

Becoming confident in the water is the first step to paddlesports. Being able to confidently swim is a skill many campers learn at camp. A bellyak combines the best aspects of swimming and boating by providing a kayak hull that is designed to be paddled prone. Sure, bellyaks were born from a love of whitewater, just like SUPs were born for surfing ocean waves. But Bellyaks excel at flatwater, and kids love us (see our Testimonials)

How do we use these things?

You get on, lie down and paddle with your hands. No extra gear. No cockpit to fill with water. No super heavy plastic thing to drag around. It’s exactly like swimming on top of a kayak. Your campers have all of the speed, thrill and skill progression of being able to navigate a boat, but with the ease and safety of prone paddling. Your campers will quickly learn how to navigate the bellyak, and will soon be competent prone paddlers. Here’s more on mastering the basics.

How old?

Anywhere from 8-80…one boat to float them all. Your smallest campers can double up on one bellyak, and your older campers can use them for games, fitness challenges, and for those who do these sorts of things, whitewater.

It’s All Fun, and Here are Some Games

Bellyak Ultimate

This is a version of Ultimate Frisbee in bellyaks, using a sponge instead of a Frisbee. It is best played with a large group. Split the group into teams, set the play area size to reflect the skill of your students and mark goals. One side will start by “kicking off” or tossing the sponge toward the opposing team. The opposing team will try to move the sponge down the playing area to the goal by passing the sponge to each team member. If you are holding the sponge, you cannot paddle, only pass off to another member of your team. The other team may block with their hands or bellyak, but try not to encourage bodily contact. Points are earned by getting the sponge in the goal. This is a great game to build teamwork and fitness.

Human Slalom

Used to practice switching edges and looking into the turn. Have the students spread out in a long line. One camper will start at one end and weave in and out of the other camper. When one camper finishes they become part of the line.

Bellyaking is perfect for kids

Relay Races

Next a relay race, each team paddling one by one out, around their team’s adult boat and then back before the next can start. Do as a forwards paddling race, and then paddling backwards.

Two teams of 4 (or more!) line up on opposite sides of the lake: when one person reaches the other side the other team sends a paddler back…the first team to have everyone make it to the other side wins.

Bellyaks can be used for water games to build confidence


Bellyak Tricks!

The most obvious bellyak trick would be standing up in the boat. Feel free to make up a story to correspond with this game. Dan is famous for his tale about a tribe of kayak people who had to stand up in their boats to pick fruit off of trees. Just make sure that other bellyakers are well away from the boats and that the water is deep enough. The challenge isn’t always standing up, but rather sitting back down. Also fun to try is handstands in the boat or turning around. Campers can also buddy up and have one person paddling with the other person standing.

Smaller campers can go two in a boat

Synchronized Bellyaking (Zig and Zag)

Used to practice switching edges. You can set this up any way you would like. Say you are having try-outs for the Olympic synchronized bellyak team. Start paddling in a circle on edge. On the command “Zig”, sweep on the inside of your circle and switch the lean to the other direction. Continue paddling in this direction until you hear “Zag”, then sweep on the inside of the circle and switch leans. If you can get people to do this in formation they will need to control their direction change to be in unison with others.

Bellyaks work great in pairs

Duct Tape Tag

Each boat has a piece of duct tape on the bow and the stern of their boat. The goal of the game is to collect as much duct tap as you can while preventing others from stealing yours. Remember to set boundaries and determine how much chaos you are willing to handle. This is a great game to get campers to burn off extra energy.

Bellyakers playing games


Do you want to know more about how bellyak can make your camp better? Contact us today for our stellar camp pricing!