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Kayaking at Zoar Outdoor: It’s All About Connections

By Cassie Hayden

Maybe you’ve seen them on the river: tiny boats, bright-colored helmets, some tricky maneuvers and an effortless roll through the pounding waves. Intimidating? Intriguing? Exciting? For many, the sport of whitewater kayaking is an opportunity to use the river in a whole new way.

“We’re seeing a rise in the number of people taking our one-day clinics,” says Janet Cowie, Director of Instruction Programs at Zoar Outdoor. “It’s a great way to get into the sport.” Indeed, we recently added one-day novice kayak courses to let people try out whitewater kayaking without investing a lot of time and money.

Unlike rafting, which requires a group and a guide, a kayaking clinic teaches you the foundational skills to safely explore the river on your own. It’s a great next step for those who’ve enjoyed whitewater rafting and want to get more “up close and personal” with the river (without falling out of the raft). It’s also an excellent choice for sea kayakers who want to try something similar… and yet completely different.

It may be just one person per boat, but kayaking is definitely a group activity. “You make connections with people,” Janet says. “You see different places, you meet new friends, you become part of a community.” These connections are what bring people back to the water time and time again: it’s not just about the adrenaline; it’s about the friends and the paddling community.

One of the most fun parts of our program is the work we do with kids. We run several clinics with local youth to introduce them to whitewater paddling, including a popular parent/child kayaking course. Taking a parent/child clinic with your son or daughter is a wonderful way to get both of you outside, learning something fun together in a supportive environment.

Regardless of whether you want to become a hard-core whitewater paddler or just want to build confidence on the water and try something new, we’d love to have you come try kayaking. It’s all about connections!



One-Day Novice Clinic: The One-Day Novice clinic provides a quick overview of the basics, suitable for people with limited time and those who want to just “dip a toe in” to the sport.

Two-Day Novice Clinic: This course covers most of the basic skills you need to paddle class II whitewater.  This course usually runs on a weekend and is a good choice for people with limited time off from work. Many of our one-day participants stay for this second day.

Three-Day Novice Clinic: It’s often said in kayaking that it takes three days to get comfortable on whitewater. Thus, our three-day clinic is no accident: this instructional program introduces the foundational skills of whitewater kayaking at a steady pace, giving much more practice time than the one or two-day clinics. This course is a good choice for people who think they would probably like the sport and want more time to practice with the guidance of an instructor.

Five-Day Clinic: This intensive novice clinic is a full immersion into the sport of whitewater kayaking. It covers all the foundational elements of whitewater kayaking with plenty of time on the river to practice, allowing students to develop their skills to a greater level than any of the shorter clinis. With talented instructors giving clear coaching and feedback, most students leave a five-day clinic able to confidently run class II and some class III whitewater. While graduates of all our programs give them rave reviews, people who take the five-day clinics consistently mark those extra two days as significantly increasing how much they enjoy the sport. 


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