(Rob Stull is the Outreach Coordinator for the Outdoor Education Center.)
As springtime approaches and more people are inspired to get outdoors, canoeing and kayaking along the Potomac River become a popular pastime in the DC area. While it’s a wonderful way to see and experience nature, everyone should be aware of the risks involved.
On the Potomac River, county officials, fire and rescue agencies and National Park Service officials began an education campaign about its dangerous sections. Online videos, social media outreach and essential signage along the river all warn visitors of the danger associated with entering the river. In some areas, the current in the river is more dangerous than an ocean riptide.
The Outdoor Education Center (OEC) is doing its part to educate participants about the importance of river safety. The OEC offers an Introductory Canoeing program to groups such as Girl Scouts, local schools, and our summer campers. This program focuses on basic river safety, equipment needed for a river trip, paddling strokes, and the skills needed to navigate through moving water.
In addition to our staff member who is an American Canoe Association certified Canoe Instructor, the OEC partners with River and Trail Outfitters (R&T), a local guide company specializing in quality river experiences. Each year, an instructor from R&T provides our summer staff the necessary training to lead the canoe trips we offer to our program participants.
The OEC staff feels through proper education and training, we, along with the many other organizations around the DC Metropolitan area, can eliminate the number of river deaths that occur each year. To learn more about our canoeing programs, give us a call at 304.725.0409. Additionally, if you would like to learn more about the programs offered by the ACA, please visit http://www.americancanoe.org.