Whitewater Lessons 101 and 102 Info Packet
Thank you for registering for lessons with Potomac Paddlesports! We are patient professionals who are highly experienced at teaching beginners how to kayak. This packet of information is provided to help keep you organized and ensure that you are fully prepared for your lessons, and arrive at the correct location with ample time to spare. Please review all of this information carefully at least one week prior to your lesson. You may contact us at any time with questions by calling or texting 301-881-2628. We look forward to paddling with you!
This packet contains the following:
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about preparedness and scheduling:
- You have up to two years from your first lesson to complete any membership package - please practice with us or on your own between lessons to qualify for the next lesson.
- Please schedule or re-schedule your lessons and practice online - and check your wait list status regularly - we recommend checking on Monday and Thursday before lessons, and two hours prior to a practice. You may not be notified when you are automatically moved off the wait list close to the lesson or practice date. The roster generally solidifies the week of the lesson or day of practice and we make final adjustments to capacity at that time.
- You have up until 72 hours before your class starts to reschedule yourself online. Students who do not reschedule themselves online in time or who don't show up forfeit their lesson. No exceptions are made to this policy and we do not offer refunds. The cutoff for practice is one hour. CLICK HERE FOR YOUR SCHEDULE PAGE.
- Personal floatation device, paddle, spray skirt, helmet, and kayak less than 18 months old are provided at lessons and practice at no additional charge (a $20+/hour value). Please help us keep the equipment clean and in good working condition. If you are bringing your own, please update your Personal info on your schedule page and email us at email@example.com.
- Please arrive and be prepared fifteen minutes prior to your lesson or practice start time. (Late arrivals will not be admitted to class or practice and will forfeit their lesson.)
- All lessons meet and are held rain or shine. A decision to postpone due to lightning or other dangerous conditions is made on-site at the last possible minute. (Mother Nature often cooperates if we wait-and-see.)
- Practices are held at a different location than the 101 and 102 lessons. Students who are no shows for practice will forfeit future practices.
- You'll spend half of your lessons in the water and some kayaking-specific apparel is required for your safety and comfort - PLEASE BE FULLY PREPARED AND DRESS ACCORDINGLY. Scroll down for a discount and free 2-day shipping on specific products and email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-881-2628 Ext 1 if you have questions about sizing and whether or not items you already own will work. We don't want you to buy anything unnecessarily, or buy items that look similar but won't work.
- Please do not wait until the last minute to purchase your clothing and accessories - try to order from us no later than the Monday or Tuesday prior to your lesson - size carefully - and bring everything so you can be prepared if conditions change.
- During your lesson, store your car key in a "Hide-a-Key" box somewhere on your vehicle and keep all personal items out of sight (backpacks, laptops, etc.) in your locked vehicle.
- Package students may attend free practice clinics indefinitely, providing you have your own kayak after your fourth lesson.
- You may repeat any lesson at a discounted rate of 15% - repeating the 102 is a good idea. Please call 301-881-2828 to do so.
- For your safety and enjoyment, we request that you keep your personal information up-to-date on your schedule page using the link at the top right that says "Personal info" CLICK HERE FOR YOUR SCHEDULE PAGE.
- Stretch regularly or do yoga.
- We are a very small business with a conservation mission, trying to help grow a small industry. If you have a 5 star experience, please help us by leaving a review on our Google Business Page and our Yelp Business Page and also reply to our feedback request or survey emails. If you have anything less than a 5 star experience, call us at 301-881-2628 to discuss your experience, and so that we may have the opportunity to improve or resolve a situation. Thank you!
List of Things to Bring
The following list of things to bring are mandatory for your comfort, safety, and enjoyment of your on-water (and in-water) experience with us. Upon completing the 101 lesson, past students have provided feedback that we "should have been more emphatic" about the need to bring these specific items, even though we were. Click on the name of the item in the list or the "View Product" button to learn more. Get special pricing using the code "STUDENT" at checkout plus a free gear bag for orders over $200 and free 2-day shipping for orders over $100. PLEASE DRESS ACCORDINGLY - email email@example.com or call 301-881-2628 Ext 1 if you have questions about sizing and whether or not items you already own will work. (Our Potomac, MD store is now closed, so just order from us online.)
Use code "STUDENT" for special pricing at checkout - free gear bag and 2-day shipping!
- April–June and September, or when temps are below 90 degrees:
- Beginner kayaker's semi-dry top (This specific product and the kayakers nose plugs are the most critical items to have most of the season):
- Kayaking base layer top (You may already have something comparable):
- Warmer kayaking base layer top (If you get cold easy and in place of the base layer above):
- Neoprene Kayaker's Hood (Vital for cold or rainy lessons and packable warmth for when conditions deteriorate):
- Warm base layer bottoms (can be worn under surf trunks - you may already have something comparable):
- Kayaking base layer top (Same as above, for sun protection and to act as a rash guard)
- Kayaker's surf shorts (You may already have something comparable)
- Whitewater kayaker's nose plugs (Attach to your helmet) are a MUST HAVE item, and we suggest you have a spare pair:
- Ear Plugs (To help prevent ear infections)
- Low profile neoprene booties without laces or straps (No flip flops or bulky shoes, please.):
- One liter of water
- Waterproof snack (Clif Bar, etc.)
- Allergy medication (We require medications for all severe reactions such as bee stings, peanuts, asthma, etc.)
- Sunglasses with strap or SeaSpecs
- Towel and change of clothes
- Q-tips (optional)
- Ear wash (optional)
- Paddler's gear bag for all of the above Our gift to you with any gear purchase of $200 or more! (And great job reading down this far on the list - almost done!):
- Eyeglass strap (So you don't lose your expensive prescription lenses)
- Note to those who wear contacts: Bring extra. You will need to close your eyes while underwater. (Swim goggles don't work that well. A well fitting dive mask is ok while learning to roll.)
July–August, or when temps are above 90 degrees:
Glasses or Contact Wearers:
Directions to Lesson Location
Whitewater Membership lessons 101 and 102 are held at the Pennyfield Lock area of the C&O Canal National Historical Park off River Road in Potomac, Maryland. Click on the Directions link in the map below for directions to Pennyfield Lock Rd. ALLOW TIME FOR TRAFFIC
Drive to the end of Pennyfield Lock Rd. to the parking lot adjacent to the C&O Canal. When you arrive, you should see a Potomac Paddlesports open alloy trailer and our smiling instructors.
PLEASE have all your clothing on and supplies ready to go fifteen minutes prior to start time so that we can start promptly - we start promptly!
Restrooms: If you make a left at the stop sign and continue to the end of the access road you should find the Port-o-Johns near the end of the road. After you use them, please return to the parking area near the stop sign.
Important River Knowledge
Personal preparedness includes a knowledge of river levels and temperatures, as well as an honest assessment of your own limitations. Here are a few guidelines to consider in the context of our programs:
- Lessons 101 and 102 are held in appropriate conditions where where our instructors can stand in the water to teach rolling and other skills with a one on one "hands on" approach. These two lessons alone will not prepare you to kayak in rapids, and you should wait until completing our 103 lesson prior to venturing out on the river without an instructor. River and air speed and temperatures can change quickly - a cool morning can turn into a hot day, which can turn into a cool evening. The air can be 80 degrees F when the river is 40 degrees F - always be prepared and dress for a swim. The river can flood in a matter of hours.
- The Potomac River is a large watershed that can flood quickly. DC area paddlers monitor the level via the USGS gauge at Little Falls near Chain Bridge - readings can be delayed and equipment can break, and the river can rise quickly. Always know the river level and temperature as part of your planning and decision making, and before you launch. As a general guideline 2 feet on the Little Falls gauge is near drought, 5 feet is considered "unsafe for recreational boating" by NOAA, and 10 feet is flood stage. CLICK HERE FOR THE CURRENT CONDITIONS AT LITTLE FALLS