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Paddling in Southern West Virginia Doesn't Have to Be Extreme.
By Stanton Steward

West Virginia, with its 32,000 miles of rivers, offers world class whitewater that entices over 300,000 paddlers a year to challenge the New and Gauley Rivers. While it has become a well-known fact that Southern West Virginia is the mecca for extreme US kayaking, many paddlers are learning that this area, with its numerous class I-II river sections and scenic lakes, also provides world class recreational kayaking for beginners.

One of the country's best novice kayaking rivers is the Upper New River with its succession of mild sloping rapids and waves. In Lansing, West Virginia is one of the country's premier kayak schools, Rivers Resort.

"The objective of the Rivers' Kayak School is to provide the highest quality education in the discipline of whitewater kayaking, based on a sound foundation of river safety, high quality ACA-certified instructors and the use of West Virginia's unparalleled whitewater resources," states Larry Slack, Rivers' Kayak School director. Slack knows West Virginia Rivers: he has taught kayaking on the New, Gauley, Drys, Meadow, Cherry and Bluestone Rivers for almost a decade.

"I've seen paddling styles change dramatically over the past 20 years," explains Slack. "Back in the beginning we would just paddle from rapid to rapid and have an exciting all day experience along the river. Now that kayak designs have changed it doesn't happen that way. Instead of point-to-point paddling, we sometimes go to a rapid and play in it all day with boats specifically designed to do what the students want to learn that day."

Beginning students also have a range of options and paddling experiences at Rivers, from lakes to a learning progression on the Gauley River. " As far as teaching beginners," explains Slack, " our program is designed in stages, starting with lakes and gradually moving onto rivers. We're teaching the same thing: how to have a safe and great time in an outdoor environment."

Lead instructor Dustin Walker agrees and adds, "When a student develops a love for what they are learning, accomplishments come naturally at their own pace. Our job is to continuously lead the participant to the next level so that students don't get bored, but not so quickly as to become frustrated." In many ways, Slack and Walker believe, kayaking becomes a metaphor for life because assertiveness, finesse, and quick decision making are important skills for success.

Slack and Walker are continually looking forward. The Rivers' Kayak School has become home for beginners and experts to fine tune their skills in a short time.

Information about Rivers Resort can be obtained by calling 1-800-TRY-RIVERS or on the web at www.RiversResort.com