Learn to kayak!

Whitewater Training

Great news!!!

The Wilmington Trail Club (WTC) will be offering whitewater training this year.

The WTC summer whitewater training program is taught by American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructors, assisted by experienced paddlers who have attended the WTC helper training program and augmented by our support staff.

The WTC training program is designed to take kayakers from never having paddled a whitewater boat to safely and competently navigating easier Class III rapids. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have modified our training program for 2021.  This year, our training will consist of an Introduction to Whitewater class, comprised of two days on one weekend (26 and 27 June 2021), followed by several choices of classes during the summer for the new kayaker to advance their whitewater skills.  The follow-up classes will be offered through the WTC Intermediate/Advanced (I/A) program.  Class schedules and more information on the I/A program are available here.

The cost for the weekend is $65, plus equipment rental fees.

Please note that all participants in the Introduction to Whitewater class must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 

All students must have the ability to swim at least one length of a standard pool (50 yards).  Swimming ability and the kayak wet exit must be demonstrated at the start of class. 
Don’t worry; our instructors will provide directions and assist students in the wet exit test.

We group students based on their degree of comfort and intended approach to the classes.  Our pre-class survey allows prospective students to declare their intended approach to learning in one of three styles.  Less aggressive students are grouped with others of similar style, more aggressive students with others of similar style.  The allows students to progress at a level that fits their comfort zone, without potential intimidation or limitation from students of different mind sets.

The WTC conducts the summer whitewater training program on the Lehigh River in scenic Carbon County, Pennsylvania.   The Lehigh River offers multiple sections with rapids ranging from Class I to Class III at normal dam release flows.  Our training is based near Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Risk is inherent in all outdoor activities; however, our trained staff ensures the WTC training program is conducted in the safest manner possible.  Our ratio of students to instructors is never more than 4:1 and more often 3:1 or less.  This allows our instructors to interact with students much more than many ACA certified programs.

We hope you will join us for the WTC summer whitewater training program.  See you on the river!

Introduction to Whitewater Class


This course is designed to give students tools to travel down a moving river. The first day is on flat water and the second day is on moving water

26 and 27 June 2021.  Times noted below.

Saturday (Day 1)

Location: Meet at the Glen Onoko Section of Lehigh Gorge State Park near Jim Thorpe, PA at 10:00 sharp.

Duration: Approximately 8 hours

General directions to Glen Onoko are here: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/LehighGorgeStatePark/Pages/default.aspx

More specific information and directions will be provided to registrants prior to the class date.

Duration:  Approximately 8 hours.

What to bring:

Required: Kayak, paddle, spray skirt, PFD, helmet, air bags, water shoes, water bottle, lunch, towel, dry clothes, double ziploc baggies or dry bag to keep food and other items dry.

Bring a lunch, snacks, and plenty of fluids with you for the river. You will store these items in your boat, so space is a consideration. You will need a “take-out” bag with a towel and dry clothes to change into after the paddling day ends. There are restrooms available at the end of the day for changing.

Highly recommended: Sunscreen, Nose clips (many experienced paddlers use them).

Optional: Sunglasses (with strap), additional clothing, carabiners, extra dry bag.

Sunday (Day 2)

Location and Time: TBD.  A shuttle will be required to relocate cars to the take-out. Masks will be required during the shuttle.

Duration: Approximately 8 hours

What to bring:

Required: Kayak, paddle, spray-skirt, PFD, helmet, air bags, water shoes, water bottle, lunch, towel, dry clothes, double ziploc baggies or dry bag to keep food and other items dry.

You will need a “take-out” bag with a towel and dry clothes to change into after the paddling day.  This bag may end up stored in someone else’s car at the take-out so be sure you have everything you need at the take-out.

You may want to bring an extra towel (or changing robe) to use while changing.  There are no changing facilities at the take-out for day 2.

Highly recommended: Sunscreen, nose clips.

Optional: Sunglasses (with strap), additional clothing layers, carabiners, dry bag.

Suggestions for a smooth paddling weekend

It is most important that you not be late.  The instructors and assistants have invested much time to prepare professional training for you.  The class is disrupted if you arrive even a few minutes late.  Please be respectful of others and always arrive on time.

When (not if), you flip and wet exit, unsecured items in your boat dump into the water and set course downstream.  It is much easier for those assisting you if they do not need to chase your loose gear downriver.  We suggest you use a plastic water bottle that can be attached to your boat using an inexpensive non-locking carabiner.

Your other gear (lunch, keys, sunscreen, etc.) can be secured in large, double ziploc baggies or a dry bag.

Electronic devices are better left in your car.  If you must bring them, they should be kept in special electronics dry bags or in two dry bags (one smaller bag that holds the electronics placed inside a larger bag).  Remember, dry bags must fit behind your seat (where there is limited space) attached with a non-locking carabiner.

Equipment Rental

WTC can assist you with required equipment through our reasonably priced rental program. The charge is $25 per training weekend and includes a kayak, paddle, PFD, spray-skirt, air bags, and helmet. The standard process is listed below. Contact the equipment coordinator if this will not work for you.

Once enrolled in training, the club equipment coordinator will contact you about gear and the training coordinator will contact you to coordinate the rental fees.

You will be asked to provide your height, weight, and possibly other information to enable selection of equipment that best fits you.

You will then be requested to go to our equipment storage location near Newark, DE to verify fit. You can transport equipment on your vehicle or choose to have WTC transport the equipment for you for $5.

Upon completing your course, the equipment should be returned to WTC and the equipment coordinator will arrange for the return of your deposit.

Graduates of the WTC training program may rent equipment for any sanctioned WTC kayaking trip or Intermediate/Advanced program classes for a nominal fee.  Contact the training coordinator for additional information or to arrange rentals.


Fortunately, kayaking is just fine in almost all weather.  Barring a major weather event (such as a tornado warning), the training will not be cancelled.  WTC cannot provide refunds based on no-shows due to poor weather.  So be prepared to get wet and dress for the weather.  More information on proper clothing and dressing for conditions will be providing to students prior to the class.  If you need to acquire clothing for rainy and/or cold conditions, please contact WTC prior to purchase and we can provide guidance.


Due to COVID-19, WTC will not be providing room and board for training this year.  There are numerous options for hotels, B&Bs, and camping in the Jim Thorpe/Carbon County, PA area.  Students may also travel to the training from home, but please note the requirement to be on time.  Due to the logistics involved with the class, we cannot make accommodations for late arrivals.


Register Here.

More Info: Contact Rick Cope at WTCPaddling@gmail.com