American Whitewater is pleased to announce the creation of our first endowment ever! Thanks to
long time AW board member and river safety educator, Charlie Walbridge, a generous donation was
made to serve as the seed for American Whitewater’s River Safety Endowment. The income will
be used for “promoting whitewater safety, responsible on-river behavior, safety
education and outreach, and maintenance of the American Whitewater Safety Code and Whitewater
Accident Database.’ Charlie's generous support of safety education and outreach
insures that, over the long-term, additional staff resources can be allocated to manage and
maintain our program.
At American Whitewater, we feel that the best form of safety education is good information about
rivers and their difficulty. Safe paddling depends on good judgment, and this depends, in turn,
on solid information. Providing accurate information on river conditions is an important
component of our website. As an example, our river level pages took a 40% jump in traffic this
May when parts of the southeast got 20 inches of rain in two weeks. Our Safety Code sets
widely-recognized guidelines for group management, river signals, and communication on the river.
The International River Rating system is the recognized standard for communicating river
difficulty. Our Accident Database, by listing most whitewater boating incidents nationwide, is a
good place to learn about the actual risks of river running. This is what safety education looks
like at American Whitewater: a suite of practical resources, widely shared. Yes, paddlers
should take swiftwater rescue and first aid classes, and many fine organizations offer this type
of instruction. But when you need practical information on rivers, flows, and incidents we are
the most comprehensive source.
It is our hope that over the coming years we’ll be successful in growing this endowment
with additional donations to support AW’s safety education and outreach. Anyone wishing to
add to the fund can simply make a donation to American Whitewater here
and include safety
education in the comment field of the donation. Every little bit helps!