Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whitewater kayak class is in session

John Karch explaining whitewater basics to a pool full of students.
   This is week nine of the first of two 10-week whitewater kayaking courses offered by the Chicago Whitewater Association in the West Cook YMCA swimming pool. After the winter and spring sessions, the club offers a series of beginner trips on increasingly challenging local rivers. It's a wonderful way to learn to paddle.
   This is our spawning ground. We started learning to paddle here eight years ago. We were awestruck by the skill and generosity of our instructors, who volunteered their Sunday evenings teaching us to paddle and roll and let us borrow their boats and gear.
A few months later, they were out on their first river trips.

Culminating in a trip to Wisconsin's Wolf and Peshtigo Rivers.

  This year, we are the lead instructors at the West Cook Y. (Full disclosure: We're substituting for our our whitewater mentor, John Karch, who isn't available every Sunday this year but whom we expect to take the course back from us when he can.) It only took us nine weeks to realize that we could post our handouts on our blog, saving paper and ink and making the material more widely available.
   So that's what we're doing here. Below you will find handouts on hypothermia, safe river kayaking, gear checklists and more.
Hypothermia - from the Wilderness Medical Associates Field Guide.
The American Canoe Association "Paddler's Checklist."
The ACA's Guidelines for river paddling.
   For those who want to assess how well their skills align with river classifications, the ACA offers these skill assessments:
  We just created a resource list for our students. We'll post it here soon.

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