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Whitewater 101

Whitewater 101 is 501(c)3 non-profit. We exist to promote safe, sustainable use and protection of our whitewater rivers through paddle sport education. Our classes introduce many members of our local community to paddlesports and teach them about river safety, teamwork, community, and stewardship.

Our History

The first course in Columbia, SC called Whitewater 101 was probably taught in the mid-’90s. It was a word-of-mouth, informal program for much of its life, and one entry-level class was offered each year.

Since 2016, six new instructors have been certified to teach and have come together to build it into a more effective organization. Even with six instructors, we need help on the river so we train our own cadre of safety & support boaters who keep an extra eye on our students. They help us keep the students safe, comfortable, and engaged throughout the class.


We currently offer two six-week beginner classes each year and have added a four-week intermediate class.  We also offer occasional weekend clinics, like Wilderness First Aid, and Common Sense Rescue. 

Whitewater 101 has built up a fleet of kayaks and all the additional equipment so we can accept students who do not have their own gear, but want to get into the sport.


Our Future

We are developing a more general basic river safety course, possibly offered through the city park system. This would allow us to expand our reach to foster a healthy community of river users. It would teach general safety and responsibility, appropriate for flatwater kayakers, people who tube the river, people who fish, and anyone else who spends time in our rivers.

Other future offerings may include off-season roll practice sessions, one-on-one instruction, trip-leading courses, and many others.


We have lots of ideas, but our main focus will always be our beginner-level whitewater class, Whitewater 101. This is the class that gives new paddlers a chance to become part of a community and teaches them to respect the wonderful resource that is our rivers.

Our Vision

Whitewater 101 operates under three guiding principles: Community, Diversity, Responsibility 


Whitewater 101 goes beyond just being a class. Over the years it has developed in to a community. We all share a love of the river and a passion for kayaking.  Many of our alumni, instructors, and safety boaters continue to paddle together.  It provides a safe and supportive environment to develop our skills and enjoy our passion.  


We are committed to the idea of breaking down barriers that prevent people from trying paddle sports. The river has something to offer to everyone. We have had students from all walks of life. Everyone learns differently, and responds to different types of instruction. Whitewater 101 has six ACA Instructors on staff.  We also work with additional instructors to provide you access to subject matter experts.  We have a cadre of support and safety boaters, who provide advice and unique viewpoints.


When you get on the river you are responsible for your personal safety.  You are also responsible to other members of your group.  This is an individual sport that will develop self-confidence and a love for the river, but it is also a team sport. You will learn the relationship and responsibility of being a part of a group of fellow boaters. This sport is as dangerous as the least skilled person in your party on a given river. It is your responsibility to learn what it takes to be a strong member of your paddling group. Once you start paddling you have a third responsibility, to protect the river and support your local paddling community.  ​



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