Chicago Whitewater Association

Chicago Whitewater Association beginner trips



To register to participate in  trips: You must be a CWA member! ($15 per year).  A parent must accompany anyone under 18 on the trip, the cost for kids 12 and under is $15 per trip. The cost for age 13 and over is $30 per trip.  You can pay all these fees online, or you can mail a check to the treasurer, Tom Costello. His mailing address is on the site. Each trip is listed in the events on this sight. 

To mail in your payment: send to Tom Costello 1160 E Brighton Rd., Naperville, IL 60563

To pay online: register for the class and you will be prompted to pay via PayPal or create an invoice to be paid later

If you are a current ACA member the cost is $30. If you select to have an event (one or two days depending on the event) ACA membership select the appropriate button and it will add $5 for the ACA event membership. 

Also print out and bring along the ACA waiver (if you submitted it online). If you are a member of the ACA, there is no charge, but you must include your ACA number and sign and turn in this form. If you are not an ACA member, you must pay a $5 event fee (or become a full member, which you can do through the CWA and you will get a discount), which you can pay for when you pay for the trip (see above).



CWA ACA membership forms 2014.pdf

This trips are listed in the events sections of our site. Please contact the instructor for additional information and with any questions. 

What you will need that day:

  • ·      Boat
  • ·      Float bags for the boat
  • ·      Paddle
  • ·      Spray skirt
  • ·      PFD (life vest)
  • ·      Helmet (for paddling, not for bicycling)
  • ·      Wetsuit - can often be rented from local scuba shops for about $15/day
  • ·      Wicking or wool shirt beneath the wetsuit
  • ·      Splash jacket
  • ·      Wicking or wool socks in cold weather
  • ·      Water shoes without laces ( suitable to swim in and walk on wet rocks)
  • ·      Water bottle
  • ·      Lunch
  • ·      Snacks


What you can potentially rent and from whom

The Chicago Whitewater Association can provide you with a boat, flotation, paddle and skirt, helmet and PFD if you arrange this in advance. The cost is free for members and $10 for non-members. If using a boat from the Club fleet, you are responsible for arranging transport of them to and from the venue yourself.

Jeff Brown, who owns the Yak Shack (located at the Marge Cline Whitewater Park in Yorkville) can rent boats, flotation, paddles, skirts, wetsuits, splash jackets, PDFs (life vests) and helmets. We cannot promise what boat you will get from him, but he has a decent selection. Call him in advance to ensure that he sets aside the items you need! 630.479.8074. He is at the park, so you don't have to transport anything. Boat, flotation, paddle and skirt are $30; wetsuit, PFD and helmet are $15.

Questions? First look online and see if you find the answers:

Upcoming events

    • 01/01/2016
    • 12/31/2020
    • everywhere

    You can start a new ACA Membership or renew your ACA membership using this page. For new ACA memberships you MUST download the waiver, sign it and return it to Tom Costello. If paying by PayPal, please create an invoice and continue with the payment process via PayPal. If you'd like to pay via cash or check, create an invoice and then send your payment to: Chicago Whitewater Association, 1160 Brighton Rd, Naperville, IL 60563


    • 11/02/2016
    • 10/04/2017
    • 11 sessions
    • 1455 W Lake St, Addison, IL 60101

    The CWA meets the first Wednesday of the month. Minutes and finances can be found on this website when logged in as a member. 

    • 04/29/2017
    • 9:00 AM
    • Hammel Woods - Route 59 Access, 554 Brook Forest Ave, Shorewood, IL 60404
    • 2

    Beginner trip with Alec and Sharon Peshkin. Meet at Hammel Woods in Shorewood by 9 AM. Take the entrance off 59 and follow it to the parking lot at the end of the road.

    This is a class I river for beginners to practice their strokes, river reading, surfing, safety and having fun. Please contact the instructor for details and equipment borrow/rentals.

    Where: Begins in Hammel Woods Forest Preserve, Shorewood IL.

    Time: 9 am meet at Hammel Woods; 9:30 car shuttle; 10:30 on the water; 4ish of the water. Optional dinner with the group afterwards.

    Required gear:

    • Whitewater boat with flotation bags
    • Spray skirt
    • Paddle
    • PFD
    • Helmet
    • Wetsuit or appropriate immersion gear
    • Appropriate layers underneath (wool or synthetic, no cotton)
    • Splash jacket or windbreaker
    • Appropriate footwear (no laces, should not hinder swimming, should fit inside boat)

    What else you need to bring:

    • Lunch in a dry bag
    • Snacks in your PFD
    • Water bottle (and a way to tether it, such as a carabiner)
    • Dry bag for anything you need to keep dry
    • Change of clothing for afterwards
    • Wool hat

    Other things you need to know: We will paddle rain or shine, hot weather or cold, unless there’s a thunderstorm. So bring the things that will keep you happy (sunscreen, sunglasses or warm hat). If you have glasses, contact lenses or hearing aides, be prepared to protect them from the water or loss. For example, use a glasses retainer. And bring any medication you need.

    Cost: CWA members can borrow boats, paddles and spray skirts from the club for free. You are responsible for picking them up wherever they are stored and returning them after the trip.

    Jeff Brown of the Yak Shack can rent you these and some essential gear for the following rates:

    • $35 for a boat, skirt, float bags, paddle, wetsuit, PFD and helmet.
    • $15 if all you need is wetsuit, PFD and helmet

    Contact Jeff at 847-479-8074 or

    He generally meets us at the put-in with all the gear, and again at the take-out to retrieve it. Make sure you let him know you are with us on the CWA beginner trip.

    Helpful information: There are pit toilets at the put-in. Once we are on the water there are no bathroom facilities. This does not mean that there aren’t opportunities to pee if needed and everyone should be sure to drink enough as we paddle. It is very easy no matter the weather to become dehydrated.

    Everyone will have to sign an American Canoe Association waiver prior to getting on the water. If you are not an ACA member, there is a $5 fee for this. Please bring cash. If you are a member, bring your ACA number.

    *Directions to Hammel Woods:Take 55 South to Rt. 52 West, take a right onto Rt. 59. The put in is located in Hammel Woods Forest Preserve just north of Shorewood, IL. The entrance to Hammel Woods is located on the east side of Rt 59 about a half-mile north of Rt 52. There is a small sign noting the Woods Entrance, possibly a large sign noting a Golf Store is nearby. Follow the road through the park to the parking area closest to the river (look for boats). Here’s a link to a map:

    One last important thing! Check your email the night before our trip and the morning of the trip in case there’s a change to the plan (due to weather or other reasons).

    Further questions? Contact Sharon or Alec at

    • 04/30/2017
    • 9:00 AM
    • 4600 Estabrook Parkway, Milwaukee, WI
    • 12

    Second CWA beginner trio of the year. Led by Pat. This is a class II river that will be the introductory to beginner paddlers. The Milwaukee River is a step up from the previous beginner trips. There are drops and large wave rapids. Focus will be on river reading, boat control, strokes, catching and leaving eddies, surfing if levels permit, self  and assisted rescue techniques.

    DIRECTIONS: Head north on route 94 towards Milwaukee get off at exit 77AUse the middle lane to turn left onto N Port Washington Road.Immediately get into the right lane (as you cross over Milwaukee river).Turn right onto W Hampton Avenue.After 0.3 mi, turn right onto Estabrook Parkway.After 0.3 mi, turn right into parking lot for Estabrook Park Biergarten.(Address is: 4600 Estabrook Park, Milwaukee)For most convenient carry to river, park in the North West corner of lot.(Use the first entrance to the lot, park in the end away from the BierGarten!). Look for vehicles with kayaks. Meet 9:30 am

    • 05/20/2017
    • 9:00 AM
    • 701-799 North 2249th Rd, Oglesby, IL
    • 9

    This is a Chicago Whitewater Association (CWA) Beginner II instructional trip. Eligibility: You MUST have completed a CWA Beginner I Level Trip. Others may be considered on a case-by-case basis. The lead instructor has the ultimate authority to accept students. The "verm" is a great river. I'm watching the weather forecasts and hope to have levels between 700 scfm and 2000 scfm, although we can paddle even lower and higher levels. It's just that this is the range that offers the best learning opportunity for beginners. If the level gets too low, we may have to find an alternative or cancel. Higher flows won't be dangerous, but there won't be much in the way of teaching; many features will be washed out. We may or may not run Wildcat (make sure you do some internet searching on the Vermillion and Wildcat), depending on the conditions, the support available on the day and the demonstrated ability of the students.

    • 06/10/2017
    • 9:00 AM
    • 06/11/2017
    • 5:00 PM
    • 200 River Dr Wausau, Wisconsin

    This is the last Beginner Trip of 2017. It will be at Wausau Whitewater Park on Saturday then Wolf River Section 2 on Sunday 

    Location:   River Rating: II III
    Type of Trip: A (CWA Beginner trip)
    Leader: Tom Costello
    Contact Info:
    Additional Info: This is the final instructor led beginner trip for the year. It is also the annual club meeting and time to vote in new board. 

    Please be prepared for this trip. We are camping at Wausau and the weather can turn nasty. You need to have provisions for eating and sleeping and adverse weather conditions. The river is a class 2-3 river and can be long days. We will be paddling both Saturday and Sunday.

    • 07/15/2017
    • 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    • Marge Cline Whitewater Course
    • 98

    Save the date for the 4rd annual IWF!! Cardboard Regatta provided by the Yorkville Chamber on Friday evening with the Buttercup Slalom Series & Boatercross sponsored by World Kayak on Saturday. Yorkville to provide the usual rib and beer festival along with adding a carnival with rides, games and more. Bring your boat, paddling skills, family & friends for a great weekend of paddling fun in your own backyard. 9:00am to 10:00am registration. Racers meeting at 9:45am and start at 10:00am

Chicago Whitewater Association is a 501(c) non-profit organization. Chicago, Illinois

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