Whitewater Kayaking – Taking That Next Step


Here at Zoo Town Surfers, we teach a lot of people how to kayak.  Our students range from adults in their 60’s to kids as young as 7.  One of the benefits of teaching whitewater kayaking is that you really get to know your students, and many times get to watch them grow as kayakers.  One of the more common questions we get after a lesson is: “What’s the next step?”

What is the best next step?  It really depends on your willingness and determination to learn the sport of whitewater kayaking and how far you want to take it.  We most commonly do lessons with students until they learn the combat roll, which is rolling in the current and / or rapids.  Once students learn the combat roll, they can go out and practice on their own.  But that is the issue that a lot of people have as beginners.  They either don’t want to go on their own, or simply choose to pay us every time they go kayaking.

It’s crazy, but as many kayakers as there are in Missoula, one would think that it would be easier to find people to paddle with, but it’s sometimes a struggle for people who start out on their own. Yes, there are lots of kayakers in Missoula, but many times it’s hard to break into that shell.  It’s not that we don’t love new kayakers, or aren’t down to paddle with new people, it’s just that we forget how intimidating it is to be a beginner.

You’ll find that most kayakers are super willing to help you out whether it’s practicing rolls, or tips on surfing Brennan’s Wave.  Whatever it might be, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  Another tip for meeting new paddlers is to swing by the local shops and see what events are coming up — like demos and movie premiers.  These are great social events where you can introduce yourself and let people know that you are looking for people to paddle with.

Kayakers are a friendly bunch and want to see more people out on the water!  So remember — next time you are floating around the eddy with a bunch of people you don’t know, introduce yourself.

For all of us seasoned, local paddlers, let’s help these beginners stay in the sport and make that “next step” an easy process and welcome them into our big, happy, family.

“All experts were once beginners.” Let’s not forget it!

See you on the water!

Check out these other blogs by Jason Shreder, owner of Zoo Town Surfers: Whitewater Kayaking and Learning to Roll Go with the Flow and Get in the Know or Kayaking the Lochsa River.

You may also want to check out our page on Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting.

See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive wife and dogs.