Raising Rippers

The Best Outside Summer Camps: Otter Bar Kayak School, California

Childhood is the perfect time to solidify your kids' love of the outdoors. These camps are here to help.

The Best Outside Summer Camps: Otter Bar Kayak School, California

The Salmon River meets the Klamath. Photo: Linda Tanner/Flickr

This renowned, family-run kayaking school on the banks of the Salmon River, in remote Forks of Salmon, California, has groomed many a competitive paddler—starting with the owner's son, Rush Sturges, who went on to win the junior world freestyle championships and shoot first descents around the world.

While Otter Bar offers weeklong whitewater kayaking camps for adults and kids, the last week of July is dedicated to introducing the sport to river rats ages 10 to 14. Otter Bar’s Not Quite Grown Ups program (NQGU) teaches beginning and intermediate paddlers boat control, basic strokes, wet exits, and Eskimo rolls on the lodge's flatwater pond before graduating to the mellow, clear-water rapids on the Klamath River. NQGU camp runs concurrently with adult camps at the main lodge, so you can run Class II rapids while your kids are learning to roll, and meet up later to swim in the river. Call it babysitting, with major benefits. The week fills up fast, so book early. $950.

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