Chicago Whitewater Association

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


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  • 01/04/2018 3:38 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Whitewater Kayaking (Ages 13+)
    This fun six-week class provides the skills and knowledge to enable you to safely paddle on moving water. It covers basic strokes, braces, rolls and other boat-handling skills along with river reading and rescue techniques. Upon successful completion of this course, participants are qualified to join the Chicago Whitewater Association on its beginner river trips in the Spring. All equipment for this class is provided; Club membership costs $15 per year and is required. Club registration must be done before the first day of class at

    Max enrollment: 8

    Date:    Sundays, March 25 - April 29, 2018

    Time:    6:30pm - 8pm

    Cost:    Members $80    Program Members $120 (cost does not include the $15 club membership, which is required by the first day of class) People need to register in advance through the YMCA to be a part of the class. You can't just show up.

    Where: West Cook YMCA, 255 S. Marion Street, Oak Park, IL 60302

  • 11/10/2017 3:49 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Open Pool at NNHS will start Sunday 12/3 at 3-5 PM. The address is 899 North Mill Street • Naperville, IL 60563. Open pool costs $10 and if you need to rent gear it is an additional $5. These are not lessons. If you are looking for lessons in the winter, contact

    Tom Costello

  • 11/06/2017 12:55 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    There will be a roll clinic at the Matteson Community Center on Nov 8 from 7:00-9:00. the fee is $50 and sign up is available on our website There will also be open pool for $10

  • 11/04/2017 11:13 AM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Sent on 11/4/17

    To: IDNR & Governor Rauner & Senator Pam Althoff

    Chicago Whitewater Association (CWA) would like to thank the State for all the support for the paddling community in Illinois. We appreciate all your hard work. We also appreciate the removal of registration for human powered crafts starting June 2018. This is very helpful for many who have multiple boats that they don’t use yearly. We have 20 boats used for teaching and it would be very expensive for a small non-profit organization like ours to be able to afford licensing all the boats for 3 years when many never get used during the year. Thank You!!

    CWA has a 40 year history and have over 100 members in Chicagoland. CWA would like to make your office aware that CWA has voted to remove its participation with the Illinois Paddling Council under its current administration. It has been confirmed that the IPC reached out to State Rep Laura Fine regarding the recent Water Usage Stamp registration. Sigrid Pilgrim did not consult with paddlers, other state paddling clubs or even current IPC board members. We have CWA board members on the IPC board and we were completely blindsided by IPCs involvement with the recent legislation until we saw a letter from Sigrid Pilgrim. We have requested details from IPC as to the events that led to the legislation and any participation from any paddling club or IPC board involvement. IPC has refused to provide CWA any details, therefore CWA has voted that IPC no longer represents CWA paddlers in Illinois.  

    The CWA members would like to remain informed and provide input regarding state legislation that the state or other paddling groups may be contemplating that can directly affect us as paddlers in Illinois.

    Once again thanks for all you do!


  • 09/28/2017 8:36 AM | Tom Costello (Administrator)
  • 09/18/2017 6:06 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Sunday, Sept 17, 2017

    Twenty area Boy Scouts received their Kayaking Merit Badge thanks to CWA providing instructors and gear. CWA agreed to provide equipment including 12 boats, paddles and PFDs to 11 - 17 year old Boy Scouts. Jeff Brown (Yak Shack owner and CWA member, ) provided 10 sets of boats, paddles and PFDs also. Instruction was done by Kyle Christensen (ACA L4), Mel Holmberg and Tom Costello (ACA L4). The Kayaking Merit Badge requirements are to demonstrate safety, paddling and rescue skills. The kids were a little tentative when the first task was a wet exit. Then they took to the sport with everyone completing rescue requirements using no-float rec boats, creek, river runners, 12.5 ft tour and play boats. We thought 30% would not be able to do it with a rec boat but they all completed the requirements in 1/2 the time allowed!

    We hope to continue providing support to Boys and Girl Scouts and anyone else interested in the sport. Safety #1, Fun #2.

    Tom Costello

    CWA President

  • 07/25/2017 12:11 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Chicago Voyagers, a charity that takes at risk teens outdoors is hosting Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness First Aid Programs at the end of October in the Elgin area. I know a number of CWA members are certified and would want the opportunity to recertify, or even take the classes for the first time. The class is being taught by Wilderness Medical Associates, who I consider with NOLS, the best in the business. Here are the details: Wilderness First Aid Training
    Bob Faber

  • 07/21/2017 11:18 AM | Tom Costello (Administrator)
    The official results of the Illinois Whitewater Fest Butter Cup races are in.

    IWF Buttercup 2017 results.pdf


  • 06/13/2017 5:57 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Time to think about Slalom racing, skill building and more…

    Hi Paddlers, volunteers and spectators!!

    The 4th annual Illinois Whitewater Festival (IWF) is to be held on July 15, 2017 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The location will be at the Marge Cline Whitewater Park in downtown Yorkville, Illinois. The IWF will include slalom whitewater competition which is part of the Buttercup Slalom Series. Also, the IWF will include a Boater Cross event sponsored by World Kayak. 

    The town of Yorkville will again be sponsoring their food and beer festival along with a cardboard regatta and an apple boat sling shot event. What team of three can hit the anchored boat with a sling shot and apple! 

    Bring your boat and test your kayaking or canoeing skills against other paddlers in the Midwest.  Bring your family for a fun day and great weekend on the Fox River. The Slalom IWF race registration is $15.00 and the Boater Cross event is free.

    Same day registration is from 9:00 am to 10:00 am and pre-registration can be completed at

     Slalom racers meeting is at 9:45 am with the racing starting at 10:00 am. The Boater Cross event will start 4:30 pm. Though the events are competitive, we stress fun, safety and a great day on the river!  Prizes and raffle drawings. 

    Also volunteers needed for event day. 

    Hope to see you there. Send questions, comments or to volunteer .

    View from a IWF volunteer!

    It is just amazing to see how Yorkville Whitewater course is transformed into a slalom Buttercup race course.  I'm into my third year of learning how to whitewater and have had a blast at this event. I had no idea what a whitewater course looked like, and I didn't know that paddlers go down river through green gates and up river through red gates.

    Several days prior to the race a group of volunteers get together and start putting up the A-frames, stringing the course and setting the gates. I had no clue how to do any of this and have now done it the last 3 years. Hopefully you will consider helping the group install the gates a week ahead of time.

    It's really a club activity. The day of event I've done everything from registration to being a starter, a judge for gates and learned that the walkie talkies should not go in the water as they were not waterproof...oops! 

    More importantly it's about coming together as a club, running the gates as best as you can that day and helping out when you're not racing.  There are a number of little jobs that the organizers will be happy to teach you how to perform.  Furthermore, volunteers don't have to stay on their job all day long. So, there's plenty of time for you to race!  This is a spectacular club event with great prizes!

    Mark your calendar for Friday July 7th to come down to Yorkville and help raise the gates. Then you have one week to practice and have fun as the main event is on Saturday, July 15th. Brooke Gabris

  • 02/28/2017 5:07 PM | Tom Costello (Administrator)

    Outdoorplay supports people who love to paddle and strives to help our community grow by making paddling as approachable and affordable as possible. Outdoorplay is extending to CWA Members a special promo code which will save your members 15% off on our website, You'll receive Free Shipping on orders over $49, along with the added savings of No Sales Tax! This discount applies to regularly priced items.

    Login and check out the members only page for the promotion code.

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