Whitewater Resources for New Paddlers

Following a successful beginner class this past weekend (9 students – all accounted for, no severed limbs), I wanted to share some resources: KCCNY links, other clubs, message boards, stores, and instruction opportunities. Hope these are helpful, and feel free to comment with questions and additions!

KCCNY

  • KCCNY Website: The main KCCNY website. Upcoming club trips are listed here (sometimes added last-minute, so check often). Also, a great tool for keeping an eye on your favorite gauges, upcoming river releases, and the club forum.
  • KCCNY Member Blog: You are here! This is a great place to share your whitewater experiences…like maybe write a post about how awesome your beginner weekend instructors were! You can sign up to contribute here.
  • KCCNY Facebook group: Facebook is a “website.” It is on “the internet,” which you may know as the information super-highway. This is the KCCNY page.

Other clubs – Of course, we want you to paddle with KCCNY, but we’re not the only club!

  • AMC New York-North Jersey is our estranged sister organization. A lot of us paddle with both clubs. Other AMC chapters (CT, Delaware Valley, Boston…) have whitewater committees as well.
  • PCC is a very active club in the Philadelphia area.
  • And you can find lots of others on American Whitewater’s club page.

Organizations

  • Speaking of American Whitewater, I strongly encourage you to join. It’s $25 for an affiliate membership (for which you are all eligible since you are already members of KCCNY…RIGHT???). Their website has pages for every gauge on every section of every river available in the US. It maintains river info, and tracks and communicates hazards. You’ll visit this site multiple times a day when you’re out on a paddling trip. Perhaps most importantly, this is THE organization that advocates for recreational whitewater access in the US. They do a ton with a very small amount of funding, so your membership goes a long way. Support what you love and join.
  • ACA (American Canoe Association): All KCCNY members are required to be members of the ACA for insurance coverage. When you sign up for ACA, be sure to get the Paddle America Club discount as a KCCNY member. This group governs the requirements for certification as a paddling instructor, promotes paddling education, and insures our group trips. If I remember correctly (someone check me on this) membership is required to participate in KCCNY pool sessions.
  • Outdoor Alliance is a newer advocacy group that brings together lots of outdoor recreation communities to protect access to the activities and places we enjoy.

Instruction – I favor getting instruction through paddling clubs for two reasons: 1. It’s free or very cheap, 2. Social connections are such an integral part of this sport and paddling consistently with a club makes it much easier to form those connections. That said, getting instruction through an outfitter can be a good thing too. Sometimes they can fit your schedule better, provide an instructor that specializes in a particular aspect of paddling (e.g., playboating), or provide guidance and instruction in another location.

  • Northeast PA Kayak School and Zoar Outdoor both offer quality instruction in this region.
  • A few days with Madawaska Kanu Center or Wilderness Tours in the Ottawa River region in Canada are great for any level of paddler and will definitely up your playboating game.
  • NOC is an awesome place for instruction in the Southeast (and also has lodging and a great paddling shop). They do international trips as well.
  • A pretty common international paddling destination is Costa Rica, and many people return to Costa Rica Rios multiple times.

Message boards – Now that Facebook has taken over the world, independent message boards aren’t as active, but they’re still good to check out from time to time.

  • NPMB is the one most people in the Northeast frequent, but is pretty quiet these days
  • Boatertalk is more Southeast-oriented, but more lively and also has a good GearSwap page.

Stores – Places like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods don’t carry whitewater stuff. There are few local stores that do, so much of our shopping happens online. I’m not advocating any of the following in particular, but here are some I’ve bought from.

  • NRS is sort of the original river outfitter. Their house brand stuff is generally good value for the money, but I would avoid their float bags as they are poorly constructed and often fail.
  • Colorado Kayak Supply  generally has a good selection and prices.
  • OutdoorPlay often has percent-off coupons available.
  • Zoar Outdoor is at the Deerfield, so this is one of the few places where you can actually walk in, try stuff on, and buy in-person.
  • Jim Thorpe River Adventures at the Lehigh also has a small selection of whitewater gear. They also have a good coffee bar in there.

 

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