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Chicago Whitewater Association

On June 5th and 6th the CWA will hold beginner lessons near Yorkville, IL. On Day One students will learn to enter and exit a kayak safely, learn how to get out of a flipped kayak (AKA Wet Exit) along with basic strokes and simple self rescues. On Day Two we will apply theses skills to easy whitewater and learn about eddy turns and ferries which form the fundamentals of whitewater kayaking. We will practice defensive swimming techniques and learn about various river features. We will get to try simple throw rope rescues both as a rescuer and as the one needing assistance.

During the cooler months, the CWA sponsors pool classes which introduce the students to whitewater kayaking. Strokes, braces, the eskimo roll and safety considerations are all taught in these classes, unless otherwise noted. The following locations currently sponsor these classes and anyone interested in taking a class should note the exact dates, registration, and contact information. Most classes start in October and again in January or February, but few are offered in the summer but we are hoping that will change soon. This page should show the most current pool sessions available.

Current CWA ACA Certified Instructors

Marlene Bertolozzi

Jeff Brown        

Kyle Christensen

Andy Cocallas  

Tom Costello    

Tam Fletcher   

Dave McGovern

Wayne Minor  

Alec and Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin

Pat Rivers       

Link to all ACA Certified instructors by state by discipline

Upcoming events

    • 12/04/2022
    • 03/19/2023
    • 13 sessions
    • Naperville North Swimming Pool

    The Naperville North High School open boating pool sessions will begin Sunday, December 4 from 2:30 to 4:30 and will cost $15. There will not be an open pool session on Christmas, New Year’s Day or January 8. It goes thru mid March.

    Please bring a CLEAN boat and be respectful of any classes happening before or afterwards.

    • 01/07/2023
    • 03/18/2023
    • 9 sessions
    • Vernon Hills High School - 145 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills, Illinois, 60061

    Vernon Hills Community Kayaking & Canoeing 

    Bring your own boat or rent one of ours!  The pool is open for kayaking & canoeing on select Saturday evenings during the winter months (6:00pm - 8:00pm)for your enjoyment.  The cost to get in is $10 per person and kayaks can be rented for an additional $5.  Families of 3 or more can get in for $30 and the kayak rental will be waived.  

    2022-23 Dates (6:00pm - 8:00pm)

    January 7, 14, 21, 28
    February 4, 18
    March 4, 11, 18

    Additional Information

    If you are bringing your own kayak please make sure that it is clean before putting it into the pool.

    We are located at Vernon Hills High School - 145 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills, Illinois, 60061

    A lifeguard will be on duty at all times.

    • 01/22/2023
    • 03/19/2023
    • 8 sessions
    • 749 Houbolt Road; Joliet, IL 60431

    Winter 2023 Whitewater Pool Session

    Location:             Joliet YMCA – Galowich
                                  749 Houbolt Road
                                  Joliet, IL 60431

    Description: This pool session is an introduction to the basics of whitewater kayaking. It will be conducted in whitewater kayaks using spray skirts, which are provided. This multi-day course is based on the American Canoe Association (ACA) “Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking” and “Kayak Rolling” syllabi modified for the pool and specific to whitewater boating and led by qualified coaches. Each session will consist of a classroom portion and a pool portion for a total of approximately 14 to 16 hours of instruction. Upon successful completion the student is eligible to continue training in closed-deck whitewater kayaks with skirts in the Beginner series of classes.

    Dates:  Consecutive Sundays beginning January 22, 2023 and ending March 19, 2023, with the exception of Sunday, February 12, 2023.

    Times:   Noon to 2pm

    Capacity:   Minimum: 4 Maximum: 10

    This class has been cancelled due to lack of participants. Please contact Dan (below) to inquire about future opportunities

    Contact/Registration:    Dan Murphy, 815 557-9062,

    • 03/05/2023
    • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
    • West Cook YMCA

    West Cook YMCA (Oak Park)    Spring classes to be announced soon.

    The listed March 5th date is a placeholder only. Dates will be updated when confirmed.

    KAYAKING: BEGINNER AND BEYOND (AGES 13+) If you are new to kayaking, this class will provide you with the skills for paddling on moving water: strokes, braces, rolls and other boat-handling skills. If you've been paddling awhile, you can work on skills and get tips from certified coaches. Upon successful completion of this course, participants are qualified to join the Chicago Whitewater Association on its Spring river trips. All equipment for this class is provided, but  you can bring your own boat if it is less than 10 feet long. Club membership costs $15 per year and is required before the first day of class. Join at  

    Date: Sundays, to be announced soon

    Max enrollment: 8

    Registration for this class is through the West Cook YMCA. You can not register through the CWA website. This site will be updated when dates are confirmed and registration is open.

    • 03/17/2023
    • 03/19/2023
    • Saint Francis River, Missouri

     03/17/2023 – 03/19/2023

    2023 MWA Whitewater Championships

    The Missouri Whitewater Association puts on an incredibly well organized race weekend each year on the Saint Francis River, about an hour south of St. Louis. The CWA has a long history of participating, and several of our boaters do very well in the competition. There are slalom races, a boater-cross and a downriver race on an amazing river that has fantastic scenery and easy logistics. This is a great one to attend even if you don't want to race. The river ranges from straightforward class 2 on the upper reach, to class 3 on the race course at normal flows. Camping is right at the take out at Silver Mines Recreation Area.

    56th Annual Missouri Whitewater Championships (MWC)

    Slalom and Downriver Races

    Date: March 17-20, 2023
    Where: St. Francis River (Class II – III), Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, Fredericktown, MO.(see map below)
    Registration: Late registration will CLOSE Friday, March 17, at the Millstream Gardens Pavilion at 4 pm — NO EXCEPTIONS. There will be NO SATURDAY REGISTRATION.


    Online Registration will open Jan 31, 2023 at the latest

    Schedule: Wires will be strung Saturday, March 11, followed by a Slalom clinic. Gate Hanging is Thursday-Friday, March 16-17, with practice AFTER all gates are strung. Friday Downriver Race will start with a Racer’s meeting at Fishermans Put-in at 4:00 pm, and racing begins at 4:30 pm. On Saturday, the MANDATORY Racer’s meeting is at 8:30. Racing begins at 9:30. On Sunday the races are scheduled to start at 8:30, following the MANDATORY Racer’s meeting at 8:00.

    Flexible pricing for Adults:
    One Day ($30), or Full Weekend of Racing ($35)
    Under 18 ($25). Late Registration Fee ($15). The ACA event fee is $10 for non-ACA members.

    You WILL be charged $10 if your ACA number is not provided for insurance.
    Pricing includes a 2023 race t-shirt for all entries.


    Saturday 6pm (dinner starts at 7) March 18, Location TBD
    Cost is $15 per adult $5 per child (15yrs and under)

    • 04/10/2023

     Our neighboring Missouri Whitewater Association is offering the following ACA classes this spring and they have extended an invite to CWA members.

    ACA L4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor Certification 04/10/2023 – 04/14/2023

    ACA L4 Swiftwater Rescue                                                 04/15/2023 – 04/16/2023

    ACA L3 River Kayak Instructor

    04/17/2023 – 04/20/2023

    ACA L3 & L4 Instructor Re-cert

    04/22/2023 – 04/23/2023

    For questions please contact

    Sally Haywood, 314-374-9206

Past events

01/01/2023 Paddle With The Crazies
10/30/2022 West Cook (Oak Park) YMCA kayak class
09/09/2022 Gauley River trip
05/28/2022 Memorial Day Weekend at the Cheat
05/14/2022 Hickory Creek intro trip (moved to the DuPage)
03/20/2022 CWA Get together
01/01/2022 Paddle With The Crazies
06/05/2021 CWA Beginner classes
04/29/2020 CWA Social Event- Axe throwing
02/23/2020 Naperville Pool Session
02/16/2020 Naperville Pool Session
02/09/2020 Naperville Pool Session
02/05/2020 Club Meeting
02/02/2020 Naperville Pool Session
01/26/2020 Naperville Pool Session
01/01/2020 Paddle with the crazies- 2020
12/14/2019 CWA Annual Christmas Party
10/13/2019 Fox River Fall Paddle Changed to Des Plaines River
09/28/2019 2019 Weber Social
06/08/2019 Wolf section 4 group paddle
06/08/2019 Beginner Trip Level 3-Wolf River - Club Meeting & Elections
05/24/2019 Memorial Day Weekend Trip
05/18/2019 Beginner Trip Level 2- Vermilion
05/11/2019 Beginner Trip Level 2 Menomonee River
05/04/2019 Beginner Trip Level 1
04/28/2019 Beginner Trip Level 1
01/01/2019 Paddle with the Crazies
10/07/2018 2018 Weber Social
07/13/2018 2018 Illinois Whitewater Festival
06/09/2018 Annual CWA Meeting Dinner and Camping MOVED TO WAUSAU
06/09/2018 Wolf Section 4 group paddle
06/09/2018 Beginner Trip III - Wolf River
05/05/2018 Beginner Trip II, Vermilion 2018
04/21/2018 Beginner Trip I, Yorkville 2018
04/21/2018 2 Day Beginner Intro to Whitewater Kayaking Class
04/07/2018 Beginner Trip I 2018 DuPage River Shorewood
01/03/2018 Chicago Whitewater Association Club Meeting
01/01/2018 Paddle with the Crazies
12/09/2017 CWA Christmas Party
11/01/2017 Chicago Whitewater Association Club meeting
10/03/2017 Club meeting 10-3-17
09/23/2017 Weber Social
08/19/2017 Swift Water Rescue Clinic
07/15/2017 2017 Illinois Whitewater Festival
06/10/2017 Beginner Trip III - Wausau/Wolf River
06/04/2017 Beginner Trip II, Milwaukee 2017
05/21/2017 Beginner Trip II - Vermilion 2017
05/06/2017 CANCELLED: Second Beginner Trip I, DuPage 2017
04/22/2017 Beginner Trip I, Yorkville 2017
04/08/2017 Beginner Trip I 2017
01/01/2017 Paddle with the Crazies
12/03/2016 CWA Christmas Party
10/01/2016 Weber Social
09/02/2016 Ocoee River Labor Day Weekend 2016
07/16/2016 Illinois Whitewater Festival
06/11/2016 Annual CWA Meeting Dinner and Camping
05/21/2016 Quickstart-Intro to Kayaking Class
04/16/2016 Beginner Trip I
03/23/2016 Reel Paddling Film Fest
01/01/2016 ACA Membership and renewal

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

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