Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ACA Staff Member Kelsey Bracewell Wins Safety & Rescue Award

By Woodie L. Walker, Community Conservationist at Friends of the Rappahannock

Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) presents its Safety & Rescue Award each May at our annual members meeting. On May 16, Kelsey Bracewell from the ACA received our 2015 award for work she performed during the past year. 

This award was established in 1987 by the late Dr. Robert Wheeler, a Fredericksburg physician and longtime FOR supporter. Past recipients include ACA's Chris Stec, who won the award in 2010, and folks involved with our local emergency response teams.

The intent of the award is to recognize those who make our river safer for water sports enthusiasts - area paddlers and boarders. Bill Micks, FOR founder and owner of the Virginia Outdoor Center, nominated Kelsey for this award, which was agreed upon unanimously by our staff. In addition to her ACA duties, in May 2015 Kelsey and Chris teamed up for FOR's annual whitewater rescue training for our staff and volunteers. This is a full-day training that is essential for us - we lead many trips on the river and also run summer camps for children, who spend a lot of time in the water. Kelsey and Chris provided this same training again this May.

Kelsey has just the right vibe to make our training very informative, and also enjoyable. She combines technical expertise with a friendly attitude that puts attendees at ease. I like the way she stresses hands-on training. She talks us through the exercise, then has us show we can perform the maneuver.

I've known Kelsey for almost three years, and it was a real treat to be the guy handing her the framed award certificate the other night. I am proud to be part of a team that recognizes her work to make this river a safer place for all of us.

Congrats, Kelsey!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Paddle Green Spotlight: Oregon Whitewater Association Sandy River Cleanup

By ACA Instructor Sam Drevo

The Oregon Whitewater Association (OWA) is one of the largest whitewater clubs in Oregon, and its members are dedicated to river safety and stewardship. Working with local outfitter eNRG Kayaking and some of the top swiftwater rescue instructors in the Northwest, OWA organizes a two day river safety workshop each year that allows members to learn, practice, and hone river safety skills. 

This year we were able to merge this effort with an ACA Paddle Green cleanup to help make Dodge Park a little cleaner. 

OWA conducted the cleanup on April 23 & 24 at the confluence of Bull Run (where Portland gets its drinking water) and the Sandy River. Volunteers filled all of their Paddle Green Bags and even pulled a muffler exhaust pipe off the river bank. 

The cleanup offered a great opportunity to demonstrate to club members and park-goers our whitewater community's commitment to protecting and preserving the river. Thanks to the ACA for providing the bags and the format to pay it forward.

Want to organize a Paddle Green cleanup in your area? Visit for more information on how you can join the fight against marine debris!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Alana Nichols, Kelly Allen Qualify As First Paracanoeists To Represent Team USA At Paralympic Games

By Craig Bonhert, USACK

Alana Nichols and Kelly Allen will become the first athletes to represent the United States in paracanoe, earning berths for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the 2016 ICF Paracanoe World Championships on Thursday in Duisberg, Germany. The sport of paracanoe will make its Paralympic debut in Rio in September.

Nichols qualified for her fifth Paralympic Games in a third sport by placing eighth in the women’s KL2 200-meter final. Her time of 1:00.647 was 6.956 seconds behind the winning time of Emma Wiggs of Great Britain, who crossed in 53.691 seconds. A two-time member of the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair basketball team, Nichols won gold in Beijing in 2008 and placed fourth in London in 2012. She also won medals at the past two Paralympic Winter Games: golds in downhill and giant slalom, silver in super-G and bronze in super combined in Vancouver in 2010, and a silver in downhill in Sochi two years ago. Her wins in Vancouver made her the first U.S. Paralympian to win gold at both a summer and winter Games. Nichols was nominated for an ESPY Award three consecutive years (2010-12).

Allen has qualified for her first Paralympic Games after crossing over from skiing into kayaking in 2012. She finished eighth in women’s KL3 K1 200-meter in 54.885, 3.639 seconds off the winning pace set of 51.246 seconds, set by Anne Dickins of Great Britain. Only a month after starting full-time training, she had claimed the title of national champion in women’s LTA K1, winning a spot on the national team. She placed fourth at her first world championship and followed that with a seventh-place finish a year later.

Ann Yoshida won gold in the non-Paralympic VL1 200-meter, while Anja Pierce won the bronze medal in the women’s non-Paralympic VL3 K1 200-meter event. The 2015 world champion in the event, she now has collected four worlds medals in the past four years. She won a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2013. She has placed in the top four at the past five world championships.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day!

The ACA Staff will be wearing our life jackets to work and posting photos throughout the day on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. We encourage you to join in on the fun by sharing your ‪#‎WearIt‬ photos and spreading the message of ‪#‎SafeBoatWeek‬ with us!

Join in and show us how easy it is to Wear It!, even while at work! 
Post your photos to social media using the #wearit and #safeboatweek hashtags, or send them to

The annual Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day is hosted by the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) and serves as a kick-off event to National Safe Boating Week, May 21-27!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 36th Annual Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race

Don't forget to register for the 36th Annual Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race (GRWCR) happening Saturday, June 4th in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Visit to sign up today!

The GRWCR features fun for the whole family with SUP, kayak, canoe, and kids races, and it's the cornerstone of the Rock the River FXBG event.

Proceeds from the 2016 annual race will support:
We hope to see you on June 4th!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Congratulations to May 2016 Instructor of the Month, Bill Vonnegut!

The ACA is proud to partner with Kokatat for the ACA Instructor of the Month recognition program. Instructor of the Month award recipients are featured in our Paddle eMagazine and across ACA social media channels. They also receive a brand new Kokatat life jacket.

Congratulations to May 2016 Instructor of the Month, Bill Vonnegut! 

"Paddling on the coast is where I feel at home. I am always checking the forecast and planning what I’ll be doing the next time I’m on the water. No matter the conditions, there’s always something I can do on the coast. Surfing, rock gardening, or open water storm paddles, I love it all and try to get out whenever possible." -Bill Vonnegut

Read more about Bill in the May 2016 Issue of Paddle.

Do you know an excellent instructor who deserves recognition? Fill out this simple form to submit a nomination for the next Instructor of the Month.

You can view a list of previous Instructor of the Month awards recipients here

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Outdoor Alliance's Advocacy 101 Series

If you want to give back to the places you play, and get involved in protecting them, it can feel hard to know where to start.

Outdoor Alliance's Advocacy 101 series is a quick-and-dirty run down on four ways to step up your advocacy game.

Learn why Twitter is the most effective advocacy tool you aren't yet using, when just a dozen letters can make a difference in protecting a landscape, and how signing up for a few newsletters will bring relevant advocacy opportunities right to your inbox. 

Outdoor Alliance's Advocacy 101 Series gives you 4 easy ways to make a difference in protecting your favorite outdoor places. CLICK HERE to check out this great resource.

ACA is a proud member of Outdoor Alliance, a national coalition of outdoor recreation groups that advocates for protecting public lands and waters.