Frequently Asked Questions

Are you new to the idea of kayaking and have questions? Below are answers to many questions common to those interested in kayaking.

Kayaking is a water sport in which the paddler sits inside or on top of a kayak and uses a paddle with a blade on both ends for propulsion and maneuvering.

There are inherent risks in all water sports.  These risks increase as you progress to more difficult and faster moving water.  Training and trip safety are a top priority with the WTC.  All WTC instructors are certified by the ACA [American Canoe Association].

All WTC paddle trips require the wearing of PFDs while on or near the water.  The PFDs must be properly fitted and fastened at all times.  All paddles are led by experienced paddlers, and include “a lead and a sweep”.  No one is left behind.

The Kayak training courses are planned to develop your skills and allow you to progress to more challenging water only when you are ready and can manage it safely.  Therefore, it is critical to ensure your skills are developed to support the level of kayaking you wish to enjoy.

WTC offers both Touring and Whitewater training and paddles.  Your choice of training and paddles depends on your goals and desire for adrenalin adventures.

Touring kayaking is usually done on still or slower moving water such as lakes, slower moving rivers, or the ocean. Some of these opportunities can require a touring paddler to handle moving water, such as navigating waves or entering or exiting a beach at the ocean. The touring courses are for recreational boats or touring kayaks. The boats are designed to move quickly in a straight line but you are not required to perform quick maneuvers around obstacles. The goal for the touring kayaker is to enjoy their time in the great outdoors.

Advanced touring paddles are offered in coastal venues and rivers with up to Class II rapids.  These paddles require touring kayaks which are at least 12 feet long.

Whitewater kayaking is performed on moving water ranging from a calm moving stream to Class V rapids. The whitewater courses progress from flat to gentle moving water to moving water with obstacles. The courses build on skills learned in the respective course(s). The goal is for the whitewater paddler is to comfortably maneuver on rivers of their choice.

The whitewater training schedule is arranged such that you may take the touring training and, if you want to learn on faster-moving water, you can then take whitewater training. However, touring training is not a substitute for Curriculum I of the whitewater training.  You must begin whitewater training with Curriculum I, even if you have completed touring training.

  • The Touring course is taught on Lums Pond and the Brandywine Creek.
  • The Whitewater course utilizes different sections of the Lehigh River.

If you are interested in Touring paddles, and are already a paddler looking for a group to paddle with, join us on the water.  You will need your own kayak and gear, and demonstrate a wet exit on your first paddle.  Please contact the Touring Trip Coordinator or the Training Course Coordinator at WTC to determine the appropriate trip for this first paddle.

If your interest is in whitewater and you have participated in another club’s or outfitter’s program which is equivalent to the WTC courses, it is up to the discretion of the WTC Whitewater Training Lead Instructor to make the decision on what, if any, courses you need to complete.  The Lead Instructor may also be contacted at

The three absolutely required items are a kayak, personal flotation device [PFD] and paddle. 

In addition, whitewater kayaking requires a whitewater kayak (with airbags), spray skirt and a whitewater kayaking helmet (a bicycle helmet will not do).  Other less expensive equipment items include a water bottle, water footwear, swimsuit, dry bag, sunglasses, sunscreen and a nose clip [for white water only].

WTC provides rental options at minimal cost for paddlers who complete touring or whitewater training.

NOTE: Listed equipment is for reference purposes ONLY.  WTC does not endorse or promote any specific equipment or supplier.

The American Whitewater Association ranks water from Class I to Class VI.  The WTC training program paddles ONLY on Class I, Class II and/or easy Class III water.  A student may choose to take 1, 2, or all 3 classes based on the difficulty of whitewater they would like to be able to kayak.

Class I (Easy): Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Class II (Novice): Straight forward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed.

 Class III (Intermediate): Rapids with moderate and irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid.  Complete maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims

 Curriculum I is taught on flat and Class I water.  Curriculum II is taught on flat and Class I/II water.  Curriculum III is taught on Class II/III water.

No. There is no requirement that you take Curriculum II. If Curriculum I is the only course you complete, you will be able to kayak on slow moving water up to class  I or perhaps easy Class II. After training, instructors will paddle with you on class I/II, to develop your skill and comfort level. You will not be able to progress to Curriculum III until you complete Curriculum II and an instructor approves you for progression.

Once you have completed Curriculum I, the instructors will determine if you have the necessary skills to continue to the next level, Curriculum II. If you feel you are comfortable on moving water and the instructors determine you have the skills, then you can participate in Curriculum II.

If you feel comfortable on Class I/II water and the instructors determine you have the skills, you can participate in Curriculum III!

No. If you complete both Curriculum I and Curriculum II, you can paddle with the club up to Class I/II waters. If you complete all three courses, you can paddle with the club on Class I, II or easy III water. Be realistic about your comfort level and boating ability. Most good kayakers develop their skills gradually, so relax and enjoy the experience.

Yes. Breathing is a prerequisite for all three courses. OK, this is really in here just to see if you are still awake and paying attention.

If you have participated in another club’s or outfitter’s program and it is equivalent to the WTC courses, then it is up to the discretion of the WTC Whitewater Training Lead Instructor to make the decision on what, if any, courses you need to complete.