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Canoe U - This is the Adventure for You!
Canoe U is a whitewater paddling instruction program for canoe, kayak, and stand up paddleboard. The courses we offer provide training for all levels of whitewater enthusiast – from those who have never paddled before to the experienced paddler interested in developing or perfecting a specific advanced skill. Canoe U happens only once a year in the spring.
Fundamentals courses (novice level) meet for one Sunday evening pool session plus two full weekends. Advanced courses meet just one weekend. It’s possible to take both the Kayak-Refresher and the advanced Kayak-Continuum courses because they meet on different weekends. You can enroll in both by selecting the Refresher/Continuum Combo found in the Advanced Courses section below. Classes build skills progressively so plan to participate in all instruction days.
Class sections have a low student/teacher ratio so you can get the attention you need to advance quickly. We do our best to group students with similar skills and abilities together. Each class group will run different rivers or sections of a river depending on the skill level of your group, water level, weather and other factors. Throughout this adventure, your ACA certified instructors will be assisted by several safety boaters whose job it is to assist anyone who finds themselves in a tight spot for any reason. We want you to be safe and comfortable so you can push your boundaries and grow.
Previous whitewater or paddling experience is not a prerequisite to enroll. However, comfort on and in the water is a plus. These courses are geared for adults with students under 18 accepted when partnered with a parent or guardian and/or at the instructor’s discretion.
If needed, whitewater kayak rentals are available through Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis. For canoeists, Rapids Riders has a limited number of whitewater canoes that can be rented. You will need to supply your own personal floatation device (PFD - a.k.a. life jacket), helmet, and appropriate clothing.
Canoe U is not just about the skills, it’s also about comradery and community. You will camp, eat, hangout, and (most importantly) paddle with like-minded people who you can boat with beyond Canoe U. Expect to make new friends - maybe even friendships that will last a lifetime.
Learn more about Canoe U on our "Frequently Asked Questions" page - HERE.

Canoe U 2020 Courses

Registration for 2020 is expected to open in late February 2020.
If you are a returning or newly enrolled student, sign in to your Member Profile with this button.

Fundamentals Courses

These courses meet for a pool session on May 3 from 5-9pm and for the two weekends of May 16-17 and May 30-31. Class sessions build skills progressively. So, for best results, plan to attend all sessions. We don't offer a discount on partial attendance.
The first weekend will start by bringing you back to nature and possibly to your youth-camp days. In beautiful St Croix State Park near Hinckley, MN you will be housed in small cabins (cabins included in your registration), but you can tent camp if you like. We gather at the main lodge for breakfast and to organize the day. We meet at the lodge again for dinner and sharing the day's exploits which usually continues at a bonfire outside the main lodge. We supply all meals from Saturday breakfast through Sunday lunch.
The second weekend will continue the back-to-nature theme in Sandstone, MN along the banks of the Kettle River. Here you will tent, hammock, or RV camp with the friends you made the first weekend. We provide dinner Saturday night but you need to provide all your own breakfasts and lunches. There are restaurants and grocery stores just minutes away in Sandstone.

Kayak - Whitewater Fundamentals

Our five-session whitewater kayaking course teaches the fundamentals you’ll need to participate in this exciting sport. Start in the indoor pool, progress through flat water and moving water onto Class II whitewater. You’ll learn basic strokes and techniques for boat control, maneuvers like eddy turns and peel outs, plus river safety and rescue skills. The course also covers river reading, personal gear, tips on outfitting your kayak and more.

Cost: $290 per person ($260 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: 5-9pm May 3 + May 16-17 + May 30-31

SUP - Whitewater Fundamentals

This five-session Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) course provides a platform for learning the basics of paddling Class I and II rapids. The course is appropriate for experienced SUP paddlers and knowledgeable whitewater kayakers or canoeists. The course will begin in the pool then progress from flat water to moving water to whitewater. Discussion includes theory, basic and advanced strokes, and stance variations for whitewater SUP. Skills development includes reading rapids, eddy manauvers, surfing river waves, and footwork skills to keep you on your feet.

Equipment Required:

  1. Whitewater Specific Inflatable Paddleboard (Mandatory)
  2. SUP Whitewater Paddle
  3. SUP Whitewater Leash
Equipment rental is available! Rental cost (board, paddle, leash) for the duration of the course is $150.

Cost: $290 per person ($260 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: 5-9pm May 3 + May 16-17 + May 30-31

Canoe - Whitewater Fundamentals, Tandem or Solo

Is a five-session comprehensive course for learning to canoe whitewater on rivers with Class I and II rapids. This course is appropriate for properly outfitted whitewater solo and/or tandem canoes. We start in the comfort of an indoor pool; then move to flat water where we work on basic and advanced strokes. From there it is onto moving water to practice maneuvers like catching smaller eddies, making sharp peel outs and effective ferries in fast moving water. Graduation weekend will be spent running class I and II rapids on rivers rated class II-III. The course also covers river reading, safety and rescue skills, what gear to take and how to properly outfit a whitewater canoe.

Cost: $290 per person ($260 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: 5-9pm May 3 + May 16-17 + May 30-31

River Canoeing, Tandem or Solo

This five-session course teaches the skills required to efficiently paddle on rivers with Class I rapids by catching eddies, making sharp peel outs and effective ferries. Canoeists wanting to enhance their canoeing skills, improve the quality of their strokes and maneuvers, and increase their river rescue knowledge this course is for you. This course is appropriate for properly outfitted versatile or whitewater tandem and/or solo canoes.

Cost: $290 per person ($260 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: 5-9pm May 3 + May 16-17 + May 30-31


Advanced Courses

The Advanced Courses meet only one weekend. The descriptions below have the dates for each course. These courses are suitable for people who have previously taken whitewater instruction and/or have other significant whitewater paddling experience. Select one of these if you are confident in your ability to paddle class II whitewater.

Kayak - Whitewater Refresher

This two-day kayak refresher course is designed for returning Canoe U students, or paddlers with previous whitewater instruction. It provides a tune-up and chance to get the rust off in the form of two fun-filled days working on improving stoke effectiveness, making successful ferries, peel outs, eddy turns and S-turns on moderately challenging whitewater. This course will help build your competency and confidence for the coming season.

Cost: $180 per person ($150 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: May 16-17

Kayak - Whitewater Continuum

If you feel comfortable in class II water and are ready to work on precision and boat control this class is for you. Expect to work on attainments, performing Class III maneuvers on Class II water, dropping decisively into those micro eddies, and more. River time will be geared towards improving water reading skills and preparing you to run bigger stuff. We'll also take time to identify "friendly" features and practice surfing waves, playing holes, and self-rescue [not necessarily in that order].

Cost: $180 per person ($150 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: May 30-31

Kayak - Refresher/Continuum Combo

This choice enrolls you in both the Kayak Whitewater Refresher and Continuum courses. Think of this combo as Canoe U post-graduate studies. Taking both in one year will save you money! Previous whitewater kayak instruction and experience is required.

Cost: $290 per person ($260 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: May 16-17 + May 30-31 (No pool session for this combo.)

Freestyle Kayaking

Learn how to make the spins, flips and turns that put the play in playboating.

Cost: $180 per person ($150 for current ACA Members.)

Dates 2020: May 30-31


You will find more information on the Canoe U Frequently Asked Questions page.