Whitewater Kayaking 101

Whitewater kayaking in Houston?

Well, we’re not kayaking in Houston per se but we are as close as we can get for some great whitewater kayaking!

Whitewater kayaking in Houston?

Well, we’re not kayaking in Houston per se but we are as close as we can get for some great whitewater kayaking!

Come join BCO for a day (or weekend) of whitewater kayak instruction on the beautiful San Marcos river, which is spring fed.  The San Marcos is clear and 72 degrees year round.

Our instructors are advanced kayakers and

Olympian, Ben Kvanli, is our head instructor!

If possible, plan to arrive at the Olympic Outdoor Center Friday night for preliminary outfitting and rolling instruction. If you can’t make it Friday night, please come early (7:30 am) Saturday to get outfitted. We will be on the water first thing in the morning to get in a full day of river fun!

You will learn handling skills, balance, equipment, gear and so much more! Your instruction cost includes all gear for the lesson.

he San Marcos has several water features. On Saturday we run the lower San Marcos. This allows us to learn and practice; ferrying, eddying out, strokes, river reading, rolling and much, much more. You can do as much or as little as you want, the instructors are here to help you get exactly what you want out of the class. Many kayakers who have taken the class go on to become serious whitewater kayak addicts! This class is for beginners or intermediate kayakers alike. We paddle in whitewater boats with skirts and all gear is included in the cost of the class. All you need to bring is water, sunscreen, swimsuit or board shorts and a top. Please bring $3.00 cash for the launch park fee.


San Marcos is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Houston. It is possible to get up very early, drive in for the lessons and then drive home. It is more fun to plan on staying for the entire weekend or come in on Friday night, stay over (details below) have dinner and then possibly decide on Saturday afternoon that you had so much fun you want to go on Sunday too.

Happens all the time!


We are getting an awesome BCO member rate of $130.00 per person, per day (non-members $155.00). Price includes kayak rental, paddle, helmet, life vest, and shuttle. Bring lots of water, snacks, cash/cc for lunch and sunscreen.



Friday evening: Fitted in your boat, rolling practice – Arrive between 6:00pm & 7:45pm. (we leave for dinner by 7:45)
Introduction Dinner – we have an event on Friday night for dinner in San Marcos if you can arrive in time. We hangout, meet the instructors; meet each other and generally just chill.

Breakfast: something you bring on the river or just grab on your way to the Olympic Outdoor Center (OOC).

Saturday morning: Arrive at 7:30 am for an 8:00am departure – meet and head to the river. This is the day to learn the basics that you will use for the rest of your paddling career! We will have a boat fit for those arriving Saturday morning at TG Canoes & Kayaks. If you are meeting the group at TG’s, arrive no later than 8:30 am.

Saturday early afternoon – lunch – bring money as we enjoy lunch from a local establishment

Saturday afternoon – head down the river and practice skills learned in the am

Saturday evening – dinner for those who stay over

Sunday am – Arrive at the Center at 8:00 am for an 8:30 departure to Rio Vista or River Trip! If you are just arriving, get fitted quickly. We leave the Center promptly so we can get on the river and beat the crowds! This is the day you put your skills learned the day before to use.

Sunday afternoon – usually back at the Center around 3:00 and then we head back to Houston – tired, happy and ready to come back and do it again!

Don’t forget: Wear a swimsuit or board shorts and a top. You will probably want a t-shirt to protect you from the sun in the afternoon. If you do not have a dry bag, just bring your river stuff and someone will help you carry it. We will send a checklist to you the week of the event via email to be sure you have everything you need for a perfect weekend.

What to expect if you are NEW…

If you have never joined us for this weekend instruction before, you are in for a treat. You will be learning from some of the top instructors in the country, right here in Texas! The instructors tailor the lessons to each individual student, so you can work on specific skills or general knowledge.

What to expect if you have taken this class before…

I have taken this class 5 times (okay, maybe I’m slow learner:)) but every time, I learn new skills. You will have the opportunity to work on rolling if you wish, new strokes and advanced strokes and skills.

ALL Kayak Equipment & instruction are included in the price for the weekend.

WHAT TO BRING for the day:
water shoes or sandals
swimsuit or water shorts and rash-guard or t-shirt to keep the sun off
water bottle and snacks
Towel and dry clothes
cash or cc for lunch
Most of this will be left in your car except your water and snacks. If you have a small dry bag that you can throw water, snack and sunscreen in that is great. They can be found at REI and Academy. If not, usually there is someone who can help hold stuff for you.

Car pooling: Please, if you would like to car pool put a note in your RSVP comments stating when you can go, how many days you are staying and where, and a contact option – usually a cell and email are best. Frequently people will meet on the west side of town to car pool together.



Please note in your comments where you will be staying

For the CAMPERS in the group, Shady Grove is a very nice site on the San Marcos River about a 10-minute drive from the OOC.

Shady Grove Campground
Address: 9515 FM 1979; Martindale, TX 78655

Camping Directions:

Shady Grove Campground
Address: 9515 FM 1979; Martindale, TX 78655, TX
Directions: From Interstate 10: Take the 1st Luling exit #183. When you reach the light which is the intersection of 183 & 80 turn right, cross the rr tracks and take your 3rd left onto #80 also know as East Davis street. Follow this towards San Marcos/Martindale. As you reach Martindale you will turn left on FM 1979 (the only direction you can turn) and proceed on FM 1979 for about one mile. Cross the river and Shady Grove is immediately on the left. http://mysite.verizon.net/resr1sp0/id4.html

The campground is self-serve registration. Bring cash and pay at the gate. $5.00 per night – put your money in the envelope, fill out an entrance permit and hang on your rear view mirror. Parallel park to road at campsite. We don”t want to disturb the grass.

For those who would rather not camp, here are a couple of motel options.

Hotel 6 & Econo Lodge are across the highway from OOC. Prices change all the time, last time we checked, king rooms were $54 plus tax and queen rooms (2 queens) were $79.00 plus tax. These are pretty low-budget motels but tend to be clean.

Country Inn Suites are close – they are higher, usually around $130

Pay the Olympic Outdoor Center directly. They take cash, checks and credit card


Event Date & Time:

  • Date: June 9, 2017 - June 11, 2017
    Time: Members Only
RSVP List: Members only