SERIOUSLY DUDE! ~ learning to paddle with the Rapid Riders. by Nora Whitmore

Seriously Dude!

{EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve loved paddling for many years. I’ve been blessed to work as a River Manager at a raft outfitter in Northern Wisconsin that specializes in inflatable kayak trips, which has afforded me an easy way to introduce the people I love to my sport in a safe and fun way. I’ve noticed over the years, however, that most of mt fellow dirtbags don’t have such an easy way to give their friends a start in boating. Here is an awesome article by Nora Whitmore about a great group that helps bridge the gap for folks looking to get into the hardboat side of things. They have an event coming up next weekend! Enjoy!!}

Rapids Riders:    Seriously Dude!  Careful of that shit.  It’s more addicting than crack.  I’m warning you right now.  Your life will change so rapidly you won’t know what hit you.  You’ll immediately have 30 or 40 new friends all with the same addiction in varying degrees.  You’ll never be the same.  You’ll be a boater.  Kayaker or Canoeist, whitewater will be your new drug.
Newb:    How???  Really!  How does this happen??  Nothing can be that life changing that fast.  I think you’re full of it.  Whatever “it” is.
Rapids Riders:    Canoe U, you see.  There is nothing like it.  Anywhere. And it’s right here in Minnesota!  A non profit (unlike other addictions) organization that just wants to teach you how to run whitewater.  We’re cool.  Low key.  A day at the pool first.  Then a weekend out at St Croix State Park in some rustic cabins.  Good food.   Fireplaces.  Learning to J-lean and stuff on beautiful spring rivers.  Wildflowers blooming. Spring breezes.  Eagles…maybe an otter.  Camaraderie that you never want to end.  You leave the first weekend looking back at a whirlwind of fun and learning.  Then you have two weeks to practice before we take you out for another weekend of rivers, campfires, food and really becoming a changeling. From what you are now to whitewater boater.  That’s it really.  From there all the rivers in the world open up to you.  Places before denied to land lovers are now rivers of challenge and wonder filled with all your new friends.  It’s a bit overwhelming to have that much fun but so far there doesn’t seem to be an overdose level.
Newb:    I suppose I have to be young and look like those dudes in the videos.   Hucking 100 foot waterfalls.
Rapids Riders:    Nope!  There are all levels of paddling.  Something for everyone of any age.  We have Grandmas that are paddling!  And we have some people out there hucking those huge falls!
Newb:    Yeah…but there has to be a catch.  Why would all those people do instruction and cooking and organizing all for nothing. This sounds fishy.  What’s in it for you??
Rapids Riders:    We do have uses for the money we take in.  We give it back to the rivers in donations.  Wausau Whitewater Park.  The Vermillion River Clean Up.  We have winter pool session every Sunday and we make sure our instructors are up to date with the best knowledge and certifications.  Oh and we have a Christmas Party.  We can’t forget to party!
Newb:    OK how much does it cost.  This has got to be crazy expensive.  Those outfitter places ask about a thousand bucks or more for 5 days of instruction.
Rapids Riders:    We charge $270.00.  Here’s a link if you want more information.

Newb:     DUUUUDE!!  I’m excited!  I’ll take this course!  Oh wow!  It’s starts May 3rd! 
Rapids Riders:    Yeah!  Get on it.  We have a few spots left. 
Disclaimer:  With life changing events such as these be prepared to buy a boat.  Then another boat and maybe even a third or fifth.  Buy a paddle.  Maybe a break down paddle too.  And maybe one for play.  Drysuits are the bomb. Color coordinate your helmets and PFD’s.   Travel will be upper most in your mind.  Trip planning will become an obsession.  You’ll learn a whole new language filled with boofs, carping, and many other new words that no one else will understand.  Wet dreams take on a whole new meaning.  You will learn to curse and/or love the weather with a passion.  And you will love every minute of it.
A little more information on learning to paddle Midwest Whitewater can be found at
Rapids Riders is a non profit organization run by people who love to teach new people to paddle whitewater.  We do it because we love it!  It’s that simple!  Come and join us on the rivers!
{EDITOR’S NOTE: We are always stoked to run stories by our friend Nora! She runs a very entertaining blog of her own that is full of great information for the begiiner or the expert, particularly if you are from the Upper Midwest. Check her out!}

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