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WKCC's 25th Annual Safety Weekend June 29-30, 2024

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WKCC is happy to announce that Safety Weekend is happening again this year—our 25th annual event!!

We have a new location and new instructors, but the goal of Safety Weekend is unchanged—to train participants, and provide them the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of river rescue. This course is highly interactive and is designed to challenge all levels of whitewater enthusiasts. It is appropriate for beginning (class 2) to advanced kayakers, canoeists, and IKers.

All exercises are Challenge by Choice with Zero pressure to attempt or complete a physical skill. Exercises up to the level of ACA Swiftwater Rescue level 4 will be available for those who are interested.

New Location: Middle Fork Willamette River near Oakridge, Oregon
New Instructors: Lee Baker of Gradient River Essentials
Dates: June 29-30 (Camping is available on the evening of July 28th)
Cost: $155. Camping & snacks included.

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What is Safety Weekend?
Safety Weekend is a two-day river safety and rescue course with both land and water-based activities. The workshop offers land and water-based training and info sessions on basic river safety topics including: whitewater safety equipment, throw bag skills, knots, swiftwater crossing, swiftwater swimming, mechanical advantage, and avoiding river obstacles. Safety Weekend is a great chance to learn and/or refresh your river safety skills in a welcoming and fun environment, and a great chance to meet fellow river enthusiasts.

Who should take this course?
Take this course if you want to learn what fellow boaters can do to help paddlers in distress. All exercises are Challenge by Choice with zero pressure to attempt or complete a physical skill.

Required skill set:
Attendees should be comfortable navigating class 2 rapids, such as to be found on the Finn Rock run on the McKenzie or the Mill City to Mehama run on the Santiam. If you don’t have this skill set, let us know. We’d be happy to get on the water with you and practice basic skills before the course. We also have a couple of IKs you can borrow.

New this year
For the past 24 years, WKCC members have taught Safety Weekend. This year, Lee Baker of Gradient River Essentials, is collaborating with WKCC to offer the same river safety essentials to our members.
Also new this year is our location. In 2020, the campsite we had used for years was destroyed by fire. We’re hoping that this site in Black Canyon on the Middle Fork of the Willamette will be our new home for years to come.

ACA Swiftwater Rescue-Level 4
Lee Baker is certified to teach ACA Swiftwater Rescue level 4. If you want an ACA Swiftwater Level 4 card, please let us know so you can be checked off.

Need-Based Scholarship Availability
Financial assistance is available for members if needed. Please contact

Meet your instructor
Lee Baker of Gradient River Essentials is an experienced ACA instructor with over 25 years of whitewater experience.Lee Baker - instructor

Informal Campfire Welcome at 7pm on Friday evening. If you can’t make it until Saturday, 8:30AM is our start time. Days will be full: 8:30AM-5PM. We will have “classroom”, dry-land skills, practicums, on-water scenarios and debriefs. Be prepared to travel down river to practice rescue skills. Kayaks, IKs and canoes are good for these sections and flows.


Other than snacks, please bring ALL your food and water for this weekend. Days will require lots of calories, and we will intentionally take breaks to hydrate and fuel. In a pinch, the nearest grocery store is in Oakridge approximately 15 minutes away. During the day there won’t be time in the agenda to make a trip. However, there will be time in the evening for a town run, if needed.

Camping/Lodging & Travel
We will be camping both Friday & Saturday nights at Black Canyon Campground in the
Willamette National Forest, 8 miles west of Oakridge, Oregon. Group sites (campsites 45-49) are reserved for our use. These sites offer plenty of parking and space for us to spread out. We can park anywhere inside the loop on the rock or pavement.

If you need to return to the Eugene area Saturday evening, that is an option. Another lodging option is the Westfir Inn Bed and Breakfast or a hotel in Oakridge.

As you prepare, keep in mind that the Middle Fork Willamette River stays quite cold in the summer as it is dam release. Participants must wear a dry suit or wetsuit for the in-water training.

Personal Equipment….
Must have:

-Type 3 PFD designed for whitewater use
-Whitewater helmet
-Protective clothing suitable for extended swimming in cold water *Drysuit or Wetsuit for our location/time of year.
-Protective footwear
-Throw rope (I have several to try out)
-A kayak or Canoe

Ideally bring: (I have lots of gear available for you to use as well)
-River knife
-(4) locking carabiners -(3) pulleys -(2) prusik loops.
-(1)15+ feet of one inch tubular nylon webbing


Am I fit enough to take this course?  You are the best judge of your fitness level. Remember that all exercises are Challenge by Choice with Zero pressure to attempt or complete a physical skill. Gradient River Essentials scaffolds instruction to meet the needs of each participant whether you are a beginner or experienced. Check out the photos for examples of exercises covered in the classes. These activities include walking on river rocks that may be wet & slippery, throwing a throw bag, and swimming in moving water.

How do I register for Safety Weekend?  You must be a WKCC member before you can register for this course. Please join by clicking on "Join WKCC”. Once you’re a member, follow the instructions to register at the top of this page. We accept up to 18 participants. Scholarships are available.

What does the Registration Fee cover?
  The registration fee covers instruction, camping & snacks. You must provide your own camping equipment, food and required river gear. If you’re missing a piece of equipment, let us know.

When will the campsites be available?  Camping will be available Friday afternoon, June 29th. Carpool if possible. Hooks-up are not available. If you are bringing an RV or trailer, please consider reserving your own space.

Other questions?
Please reach out with any questions you may have.  or 

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