Interested in becoming a whitewater leader? Here’s everything you need to know:
1. STEP 1 (optional):
Start helping out with lake lessons. None of this is required but it’s a great way to get used to being a leader. It’s also a great way to help out before getting your R3p, since that’s the first rating necessary to become an official whitewater leader.
- Laminated lists/lesson materials are in one of the plastic bins outside the cage, check these out. Helping with any of the lessons (kayak, lake, or even SK0) will give you ideas about how to be a good instructor and will get you on the water. The only requirement is that you’ve taken these lessons yourself and are comfortable enough on the water that you can offer your skills as help. Also, helping with lake lessons frees current instructors to focus on bigger trips—meaning more opportunities for you to work your way up the ratings!
- Shadow an instructor (jump on a posted lesson; let the leader know you’d like to shadow them). Start paying attention to how they teach certain skills, what works and what doesn’t. Shadowing is a great way to learn instructing techniques and pick up some things that may work for you.
- Then; lead under supervision (ask a leader to help you out before posting the trip). At this point, you can talk to our webmaster about getting permission on the website to assign ratings for people who participate in your lessons.
- Start posting and leading your own lake lessons!
2. STEP 2: Whitewater Leader 1 (WW1)
This is where requirements start coming in. To be a WW1 you will need:
- An R3p rating (confident and in control on class 2 water, ready to start tackling class 3)
- Read the Water Safety Code and take the water safety test
- Meet with our Water Safety Chair to go over your answers and make sure you have a solid understanding of water safety with the club
- Recommendation by a Water Safety Board Member. If you let trip leaders know that you’d like to work towards your WW1 and you’re a solid R3p, this should happen quickly. We always love new leaders!
- After these pre-requisites are met, you will be assigned your rating by the Water Safety Chair
- With a WW1 rating you now can lead entry-level whitewater trips, typically at Prairie du Sac, Badfish Creek, or the Baraboo River.
3. STEP 3: Whitewater Leader 2 (WW2)
- R3 rating and current WW1
- Lead under supervision on Class II water and evaluation by a paddler rated WW2 or higher
- Majority support by Water Safety Board members after pre-requisites are met and are recommended by a Water Safety Board member for promotion.
4. STEP 4: Whitewater Leader 3p (WW3p)
- R4p rating and WW2
- This rating is assigned by the Water Safety Chairperson per individual per river, since it is a provisional rating. It is only valid for a single, authorized trip, on a river that is familiar to the leader.
- This rating is optional; most leaders progress from WW3 to WW4 without getting this provisional rating.
5. STEP 5: Whitewater Leader 3 (WW3)
- R4 rating and WW3p
- Lead under supervision of a WW3 on Class III water
- Majority vote by Water Safety Board Members after a recommendation for promotion by a Water Safety Board Member.
Fast Tracking Leaders with Prior Skills and Experience:
We welcome paddlers who join Hoofers with previous paddling and leadership experience. We can fast-track you to the appropriate leader rating by working with the Water Safety Chair and other paddling leaders. Essentially you just need to paddle on a trip and have the trip leader assess your paddling and leadership skills to make a recommendation to the Water Safety Board. Certifications such as from the American Canoe Association are helpful to determine the appropriate paddler and leader rating, although we always require some direct observation and assessment from a current leader. In short, just paddle with us and we’ll figure out the club rating!
From WW3 on up, the ratings follow the general trend of WW3p and WW3 with the same increase in qualifications. While we’d love to have lots and lots of WW4s, we appreciate any and all leaders. Any leading you do is a huge benefit to the club. Even if you only help with lake lessons, it will make a big difference in freeing up our few higher-rated leaders to lead bigger trips for paddlers like you!
Canoe and sea kayak trips have different leader requirements. Our current leaders would love to have you help with lake lessons and work your way towards bigger trips; feel free to ask leaders about more specific requirements, check out the requirements in the Water Safety Code, or speak up at a meeting and someone will be happy to explain!
We know getting started with leading trips can be slightly confusing. Hopefully this outline helps you get an idea for what being a whitewater leader entails!