Whitewater Lessons 101 and 102 Info Packet

This packet of information is provided to help keep you organized and ensure that you are fully prepared for your lessons, and arrive at the correct location with ample time to spare. Please review all of this information carefully at least one week prior to your lesson. Chat or message us through our website with any questions. We look forward to paddling with you!


This packet contains the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about preparedness and scheduling:

  1. You have up to two years from your first lesson to complete any membership package - please practice with us or on your own between lessons to qualify for the next lesson.
  2. Please schedule or re-schedule your events online using your scheduling login - and check your wait list status regularly - wait listing for an event is a commitment on your part to attend. We recommend checking on Monday and Thursday before weekend events. You WILL NOT be notified when you are automatically moved off the wait list, so be sure to check using your scheduling login. The roster generally solidifies the week of the event (or hour before practice) and we make final adjustments to capacity at that time. Adjustments made on a Friday that result in your being added are accompanied by a manual text and phone call from us. Please respond promptly. Remove yourself from the wait list if you can no longer attend. CLICK HERE FOR YOUR SCHEDULE PAGE.
  3. You have up until 72 hours before your class starts to reschedule yourself online. Students who do not reschedule themselves online in time or who don't show up forfeit their lesson. No exceptions are made to this policy and we do not offer refunds. The cutoff for practice is one hour.
  5. Personal floatation device, paddle, spray skirt, helmet, and kayak less than 18 months old are provided at lessons and practice at no additional charge (a $20+/hour value). Please help us keep the equipment clean and in good working condition. If you are bringing your own, please update your Personal info on your schedule page and chat or message us to let us know.
  6. Please arrive and be prepared fifteen minutes prior to your lesson or practice start time. (Late arrivals will not be admitted to class or practice and will forfeit their lesson.)
  7. All lessons meet and are held rain or shine. A decision to postpone due to lightning or other dangerous conditions is made on-site at the last possible minute. (Mother Nature often cooperates if we wait-and-see.)
  8. Practices are held at a different location than the 101 and 102 lessons. Students who are no shows for practice will forfeit future practices.
  9. You'll spend half of your lessons in the water and some kayaking-specific apparel is required for your safety and comfort - PLEASE BE FULLY PREPARED AND DRESS ACCORDINGLY.
  10. During your lesson, store your car key in a "Hide-a-Key" box somewhere on your vehicle and keep all personal items out of sight (backpacks, laptops, etc.) in your locked vehicle.
  11. WW102 is the prerequisite for practice clinics. Package students may attend free practice clinics indefinitely, providing you have your own kayak after your fourth lesson.
  12. You may repeat any lesson at a discounted rate of 15% - repeating the 102 is a good idea. Please chat or message us to do so!
  13. For your safety and enjoyment, we request that you keep your personal information up-to-date on your schedule page using the link at the top right that says "Personal info"
  15. Stretch regularly or do yoga.
  16. We are a very small business with a conservation mission, trying to help grow a small industry. If you have a 5 star experience, please help us by leaving a review on our Google Business Page and our Yelp Business Page and also reply to our feedback request or survey emails. If you have anything less than a 5 star experience, chat or message with us to discuss your experience, and so that we may have the opportunity to improve or resolve a situation. Thank you!

List of Things to Bring

The following list of things to bring are mandatory for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment of your on-water (and in-water) experience with us. Upon completing the 101 lesson, past students have provided feedback that we "should have been more emphatic" about the need to bring these specific items, even though we were. The Potomac can be very warm in July and August, but you'll need all this stuff, and eventually a semi dry top, as you get psyched and continue to paddle for at least three seasons.

  • Event "tickets": electronic proof of purchase (use email), electronic proof of completion of Risk Form by ALL participants (use email), electronic proof ALL participants names appear as "scheduled" for the event date and time (use scheduling login)
  • Performance base layer or rash guard that dries fast (for wicking)
  • Surf trunks (can be worn over neoprene pants or shorts and without)
  • Simple and low profile wet shoes or booties without laces or straps
  • One liter of water
  • Waterproof snack (Clif Bar, etc.)
  • Allergy medication (We require medications for all severe reactions such as bee stings, peanuts, asthma, etc.) and small dry bag to store it
  • Sunglasses with strap
  • Hide A Key and or small dry bag - Please stash your own key and belongings on your car or person during events.
  • Sunscreen
  • Wetsuit, or semi dry top and wetsuit bottoms or shorts (cool weather)
  • Towel and change of clothes
  • Tip for instructors (Suggested)
  • Q-tips (optional)
  • Ear wash (optional)
  • Glasses or Contact Wearers:
  • Eyeglass strap (So you don't lose your expensive prescription lenses)
  • Note to those who wear contacts: Bring extra. You will need to close your eyes while underwater. (Swim goggles don't work that well. A well fitting dive mask is ok while learning to roll.)
  • Directions to Lesson Location

    Whitewater Membership lessons 101 and 102 are held at the Pennyfield Lock area of the C&O Canal National Historical Park off River Road in Potomac, Maryland. Click on the Directions link in the map below for directions to Pennyfield Lock Rd. ALLOW TIME FOR TRAFFIC

    Drive to the end of Pennyfield Lock Rd. to the parking lot adjacent to the C&O Canal. When you arrive, you should see our open alloy trailer and smiling instructors.

    PLEASE have all your clothing on and supplies ready to go fifteen minutes prior to start time so that we can start promptly - we start promptly!

    Restrooms: If you make a left at the stop sign and continue to the end of the access road you should find the Port-o-Johns near the end of the road. After you use them, please return to the parking area near the stop sign.

    Important River Knowledge

    Personal preparedness includes a knowledge of river levels and temperatures, as well as an honest assessment of your own limitations. Here are a few guidelines to consider in the context of our programs:

    1. Lessons 101 and 102 are held in appropriate conditions where where our instructors can stand in the water to teach rolling and other skills with a one on one "hands on" approach. These two lessons alone will not prepare you to kayak in rapids, and you should wait until completing our 103 lesson prior to venturing out on the river without an instructor.
    2. River and air speed and temperatures can change quickly - a cool morning can turn into a hot day, which can turn into a cool evening. The air can be 80 degrees F when the river is 40 degrees F - always be prepared and dress for a swim. The river can flood in a matter of hours.
    3. The Potomac River is a large watershed that can flood quickly. DC area paddlers monitor the level via the USGS gauge at Little Falls near Chain Bridge - readings can be delayed and equipment can break, and the river can rise quickly. Always know the river level and temperature as part of your planning and decision making, and before you launch. As a general guideline 2 feet on the Little Falls gauge is near drought, 5 feet is considered "unsafe for recreational boating" by NOAA, and 10 feet is flood stage.