Team River Runner Safety Page

Safety Resources

Please check out all the safety resources available to you to make sure that you are keeping you and your chapter members safe on the water! 

These documents have been written and provided by Team River Runner Safety Coordinator – Charlie Duffy.



Paddling Safety


Proper Glove Removal

Sam Splint Intro and How To Use

First Annual Western OuttaSight Clinic

First Annual Western OuttaSight Clinic
Lake Berryessa, California
September 18 – 22, 2019
by Chris Farris / photos by Carlisle Landel

Picture this:  a 70-foot luxury houseboat moored in a secluded cove on a warm lake as the base of operations for the First Western Outtasight Clinic, where 4 veterans with visual impairments would learn kayaking skills and nine vets or volunteers would learn to guide the visually impaired.  It was a perfect plan at a perfect place with perfect conditions:  79-degree, crystal-clear weather and water on Lake Berryessa in California.

No plan is perfect, of course, and we were reminded of this as the advance party discovered that a fallen tree had blocked the road into Pleasure Cove Marina, where we would camp overnight before transferring to our houseboat.  It took 2.5 hours before the fire and utility crews cleaned up the mess.

 Once camp was set up, we gathered for dinner, introductions, and orientation, and after a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we transferred people, food and gear to our houseboat.  Once aboard, we motored out to our instruction site in Haines Cove, where we moored the boat to an island and set up for three days and two nights of instruction and fun.

The guidance was provided by Chris Farris, event organizer, and American River Chapter Co-Coordinator, and Carlisle Landel, Co-Coordinator of the Palo Alto River Chapter, both of whom had been certified at last June’s TRR Adaptive Paddling Conference, with additional help and oversight from Jennifer Eaton from Kids Are Outta Sight and TRR National.  The participants, who came from Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and California, included both visually impaired paddlers and their accompanying but untrained family members as well as experienced whitewater and sea kayak instructors who needed to learn techniques for teaching and guiding this population.

And learn we all did, starting with the basics, progressing to a double-circumnavigation of our island (2 miles total) and culminating in 5-mile paddle back to the marina from our mooring site on the last day.  But paddling and instruction was not the only thing on the schedule by a long shot—not when you have a luxury houseboat complete with water slide and hot tub.  In addition, excellent meals were prepared and enjoyed, new boats were dedicated, and a raffle was held.  As a special bonus, Park Ranger Jennifer Onufer came to the boat and gave a presentation on the natural history of the lake and its locale with her collection of fossils, plants, pelts and other specimens that could be passed about and shared even with the visually impaired while a member of the Bureau of Reclamation public relations staff shot documentary photographs and interviewed our participants.

By Saturday morning, everyone had advanced their skills to the point where the paddle back to the marina on the final morning was well within the capability, and we had a leisurely trip back in the morning sun.  After unloading the boat we returned to our camp for a huge catered meal and our final closing ceremonies.

Special thanks are due to:
  • Melissa Farris for organizing the food and menu and for holding down the campsite while we were on the boat.
  • The staff of Pleasure Cove Marina, who towed our string of sea kayaks to the mooring site and provided water taxi service between the marina and our mooring.
  • Guy Cables, owner, and operator of Sierra Outdoor Center of Auburn, for the donation of raffle items and his continued support of TRR American River.
  • TRR National, both for its support of the clinic and for its OJT program, which provided the training that made organizing this event possible.
Our home away from home.
“Captain” Kevin Park, TRR American River Chapter Co-Coordinator, at the helm.
Shoreside base camp.  From left, Warner Weber (VIP), Lester Howard (VIP), Chris Farris, Greg Thompson, Greg Berman, Tim Reusser (Boise), Bill MacDonald, Joe Sanders (participant), Kevin Park (A.R.), Jim Lougheed (VIP),Tom Higman, Dianne Lougheed (participant), Jennifer Eaton (KAOS),  Those pictured without affiliation are from American River Chapter.
Boat delivery!
VIPs Warner Weber, Jim Lougheed and Lester Howard relax as we motor out of the marina.
The fleet awaits.
Chris Farris (white hat) dedicates two boats donated to the American River chapter as the clinic participants look on.
Jim and Diane Lougheed relax while the fleet paddles home.
Butts in boats!
Class begins! Diane and Jim Lougheed get instruction from Bill MacDonald while Jennifer Eaton (rear) gets organized.
Tim Reusser (Boise) prepares lunch on board.
BuRec Ranger Jennifer Onufer gives us the scoop as the PR officer films.  Clockwise from Ranger Onufer:  Jim Lougheed, Bill MacDonald, Warner Weber, Chris Farris, Greg Thompson, Jennifer Eaton, Tom Higman, Lester Howard, Greg Berman 
The crew.  Top from left:  Robert Sanders, Joe Sanders, Tim Reusser, Lester Howard, Greg Thompson, Warner Weber, Chris Farris, Matt Krizan.  Bottom:  Carlisle Landel, Diane Lougheed, Jim Lougheed, Greg Berman, Jennifer Eaton, Bill MacDonald, Tom Higman.  Not pictured:  Kevin Park.
Melissa and Chris Farris with a token of our appreciation

TRR Memphis Gets out on the water !

“Grab your paddle, hop in the kayak, and let’s take a few laps around Shelby Farms. It’s just what the doctor ordered for these veterans. We met up with them on a cool, windy Tuesday morning.

“The main thing is just be out here and enjoy it. You’re not in a race to do anything. You’re not in a hurry to be anywhere. You’re out enjoying yourself, and it’s wonderful,” said Navy Veteran Peter Geldard.

Peter served 6 years in the Navy. “

Read More

Annual Veteran’s Family Camp

By: Tonya Butler

This year’s camp served 76 veterans with 22 volunteers from the Marine Corp League,  American Legion and Auxiliary, and the University of South Alabama Therapeutic Recreation Majors, as well as high school students fulfilling volunteer hours.

Veterans’ families bonded over pies in the face, fear on the high ropes course, laughter as they flew down the slip n slides, competition in the corn hole tournament, and tears of healing while we discussed the challenges of transition from service to our country to service to our families and communities.
Veterans and their families had the opportunity to learn to play again and the positive effects it has on reconnecting with their loved ones in a non clinical environment. The adults learned how to open up to each other while playing ridiculously embarrassing games that made them laugh out loud at each other while embracing their injuries, disabilities, and their renewed love for life.
We shared songs and stories around the campfire, along with marshmallows and glow in the dark games. We broke down barriers to healing by breaking water balloons over each other’s heads!
Camp ended with teaching skills that they could carry on outside, such as kayaking and balancing on a stand up paddleboard. We gave them resources to connect with each other and with community organizations so they may find the lost connections they were seeking out.

Team River Runner Southeast Region Rendezvous – Trip Report Bill Finger

From August 23rd to August 26th, 2019, the rivers and mountains of western North Carolina were host to the ninth annual Team River Runner Southeast Region Rendezvous.  Over 60 veterans, family members, and volunteers from nine Team River Runner chapters participated in a weekend of health and healing through paddle sports and social interaction.  This year’s event focused on skills progression, and a dozen ACA-certified instructors donated their time and energy to ensure that our participants came away feeling challenged and accomplished.  For some this was their first time on moving water and the supportive environment eased this transition. 

Veterans and volunteers straggled in Friday afternoon and evening, and were welcomed to the bunkhouse with a hot bowl of chili provided by River of Life Ministries.  Thanks again to Heidi Ramsey-Woodard for preparing and serving, all the while with an infant on her hip!  I believe this makes the fourth year Heidi has arranged this for us, either through the Bryson City Rotary Club or River of Life.  The evening ended with a large group around the campfire making new friends.

Saturday we started with group breakfast in the bunkhouse, followed by a quick stretch, and then trip planning.  Our guides put together four trips for the day, including a lake paddle on Fontana Lake, a first timers’ trip on the Little Tennessee River, an intermediate trip on the Tuckasegee Gorge, and a skills session for intermediate paddlers on the Nantahala Gorge.  The entire group met back at the bunkhouse for pizza and refreshing beverages, and planning for Sunday.  I remembered to buy the ‘smores fixin’s this year and the campfire crowd was very pleased. 

Saturday night brought a bit of rain, and with the extensive rain earlier in the week, the steep banks of the Nantahala Gorge that were stripped of foliage in a fire two years ago gave way, and mudslides covered the road and blocked the river.  Initially the word was one slide with minimal disruption, but by morning the news was four separate slides, and weeks of cleanup expected.  As a result, our all-inclusive group paddle on the Nantahala scheduled for Sunday was off the schedule.  We settled for splitting up again, with some groups heading to the Ocoee, some to the Lower Green, and some back to the Tuckasegee Gorge.  I tagged along with the group to the Tuck Gorge, and with the help of our instructors, we were able to teach and practice attainment in rapids, as well as explore new lines and small eddies in some of the more challenging rapids.  We quickly learned that a class II river can provide class IV moves if you know where to look!  I commented afterwards that I thought it was our most successful skills building trip on record. 

Next year will mark out 10th annual Southeast Region Rendezvous.  I have some special activities and events in the works, so stay tuned and sign up early!

Bill Finger
Southeast Region Coordinator, Team River Runner


Terry Hunt Can’t Wait To Get Out On The Water!

“Terry Hunt, a blind Veteran who receives health care at the Kernersville VA Health Care Center (HCC), mentioned several years ago that he wished he could participate in water sports.

Around the same time, Terri Everett, a Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist at the HCC, became a chapter coordinator for the national kayaking organization Team River Runner.

Team River Runner helps Veterans and their families find health, healing, community purpose and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports. It is funded through VA grants.

All Hunt needed to say was, “Let’s get on the water!” and Everett was ready to go. Shortly after they connected, Hunt began regular kayaking with the Triad Chapter of Team River Runner. He has been doing so for the past five years. Everett or other volunteers guide him on the water.”

Read The Full Article

Terry Also Honored here

TRR Palo Alto & American River at San Francisco Fleet Week

By: Carlisle Landel – Palo Alto Chapter Co- Coordinator

Fall in San Francisco brings Fleet Week, the city’s largest annual civic event and a week-long celebration of the US Navy that culminates in an air show along the waterfront each day of the closing weekend. Fall also brings sparkling weather and perfect conditions for a sea kayak tour on San Francisco Bay.

Team TRR (l to r) Sandy Sproch, Laura Harker, David Pratt, Stephen Harker, Kent Harker, Chris Farris, Reese Lavasseur, Lester Howard, Mike O’Meara, Margaret Hetherington, Carlisle Landel, Gail Matthews

Stephen Harker (Palo Alto) and Lester Howard (American River) get acquainted while Doug Pratt (Palo Alto) gets organized

For the second year in a row, the Palo Alto chapter of Team River Runner organized a kayak outing on the Bay that coincides with the airshow.  On Sunday morning, October 13th, twelve TRR members from the Palo Alto and American River Chapters met at the Sausalito base of operations of Environmental Traveling Companions, a Bay Area organization dedicated to providing outdoor opportunities to people with disabilities and under-resourced youth.  After getting outfitted with sea kayaks (a mixture of double and triple boats) and gear and receiving the requisite safety talk, the 11 TRR members and 5 guides (including TRR American River Chapter Co-Coordinator Chris Farris doing double-duty) set off on a 3 mile paddle to Sea Glass Beach, a small, secluded rocky beach across the Bay from the City’s waterfront that provides an excellent lunch spot with a great view of the air show to come.

Kent Harker, Mike O’Meara and Laura Harker (l to r) watch a United Airlines Boeing 777 head for the San Francisco waterfront.

To the beach!

The Put-In: An exercise in organized chaos

Kent Harker, Margaret Hetherington and Mike O’Meara assist Chapter Co-Coordinator and disabled vet Reese Lavasseur (in white) out of his kayak.

The weather was gorgeous as we paddled out from Schoonmaker Beach, calm, sunny and 69 degrees, as we paddled past  yachts and houseboats moored in the various marinas, restaurants and bars, and the Sausalito ferry terminal and waterfront .  Boat traffic was steady but we were well out of the shipping channel and we easily avoided boats entering and exiting their moorings.  Arriving at the beach, we landed safely through small, wake-generated surf and settled in to enjoy lunch, the sunshine, great views and the show.  Harbor porpoises and sea lions frolicked offshore while kingfishers, raptors and sea birds soared overhead.  The air show began about half an hour late due to a little low clouds over the middle of the Bay, but then it was a go as the US Navy’s Leap Frogs Parachute Team dropped from an orbiting Air National Guard C-130.  Flybys and demonstrations by numerous aircraft and aerobatic teams followed.  Unfortunately, we had to head back to the marina before the headliners, the Blue Angels, began their demonstration, but we could see them in the distance and they overflew us at low altitude many times as we were cleaning up and stowing gear back at the base.  

On the one side: Angel Island, the East Bay hills (in the distance), Alcatraz, The Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco waterfront (just out of frame on the right)….

While on the other is the Sausalito waterfront.


Lunch time! (l to r) Stephen Harker, Sandy Sproch, Lester Howard, Chris Farris

After a closing circle and dinner at a local restaurant, we all headed home happy after another excellent outing with the following resolution:  next year, we will try to reserve a trip to paddle to Angel Island in the Bay for an overnight camping trip—we want to be able to watch the entire air show!
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