McLain Scholarship
Beginner Clinic







Paddlers use event to improve skills Wausau Daily Herald June 27, 2004


Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp

Presented by the Wausau Area Canoe and Kayak Organization

June 22-27, 2004


The Wausau, Wisconsin paddling community has under taken a new curriculum to be implemented at this years June training camp. The new focus will be to offer a skills development camp integrating traditional ACA whitewater teaching methods with beginning and intermediate Slalom race skills. Instruction will be offered in a variety of formats and will range from basic whitewater boating skills to the application of Slalom skills for the Jr. Olympian hopeful and Citizen Racer. This year’s instruction will feature an integrated coaching team led by World Champion & Olympian Davey Hearn.  General Camp goals are listed below with details in the following text: 



bullet Introduce the concept of a “Team Coaching Staff” that will include Jr. Olympian assistant coaches, ACA certified river skills coaches and a camp Head Coach.
bullet Offer an evening “Introduction to White Water Clinic with small group instruction by Jr. Olympians under the direction of ACA certified instructors.
bullet Fast Track  “Skills Progression Instruction” with three days of training suitable for beginning and intermediate paddlers. Slalom skills and techniques will be integrated with traditional ACA recreational river skills.
bullet Provide “Tuition Stipends” via a work-study opportunity for Jr. Olympians.
bullet Feature an entire day of “Citizen Racer Instruction” with Olympian Davey Hearn.
bullet “Pre-race, open water practice” day on the nations premiere competition course.
bullet “Race-Day Coaching” with Coach Hearn for all weekend events.

Team Coaching:  The Wausau Area Canoe Kayak Organization (WACKO) has a long history of providing safe, effective river skills clinics on the nations premiere whitewater competition course.  Local ACA certified instructor/coach Tom Wood and his teaching staff have been helping budding paddlers of all skill levels rapidly advance by using the myriad of training options offered by the Wausau Race Course. The course flow is dam controlled on a daily basis allowing for the regulation of difficulty as paddlers progress. Additionally, the course has numerous regions ranging from Class I through Class III. These regions provide the opportunity to customize concurrent classes of instruction for groups of differing ability at appropriate course locations. This year’s instruction will offer six sessions over 3 days of classes. Instruction will be provided for novice, beginner and intermediate paddlers in kayak, canoe and open canoe.

A pyramid of instructors will provide training. At the base, Jr. Olympian medallists and qualifiers will serve as instructor assistants. Experienced ACA certified instructors will staff the next level as Lead Instructors. Finally, The folks at WACKO are excited to have Olympian and World Champion Davey Hearn serve as camp Head Coach.

Introduction to White Water Evening Clinics: This year the Wausau Area Canoe and Kayak Organization has opted to dedicate the June camp to Ray McLain. Ray was a Wisconsin area enthusiast and coach that helped many of our nations slalom athletes get their start. In keeping with Ray’s love of the sport and enthusiasm for training the beginner, an evening program will be offered at YMCA Camp Sturtevent on the Eau Claire River.

Beginning paddling instruction will be offered on the evenings of June 22nd, 23rd, 24th.  No paddling experience required. WACKO will provide boats, pfd’s and other equipment. This instruction is geared for paddlers ages 10 or above.  Mom or Dad can join in and make it a family outing. Younger paddlers (<10yrs.) will be enrolled on a case-by-case basis.

Instruction will focus on the basic knowledge and skills needed by those new to the sport. Junior Olympian assistants will provide an introduction to equipment, craft entry and exit skills, basic stroke concepts and safety. Instructors will demonstrate technique, explain concepts and provide safety.

All participants must be comfortable in the water.

Dinner will be provided with the resident students and coaches of the Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp on Tuesday after paddling. No lodging or other meals are provided during this clinic instruction.

Fast Track Skills Progression TrainingWhite water boating, practiced for recreation or competitive sport, requires a skills progression that teaches the participant to safely navigate a whitewater stream.  Most boaters begin with the general techniques taught in ACA classes offered by clubs across the nation. As general river skills of water reading, stroke technique, timing and speed progress, many boaters chose to participate in citizen’s races to test their skills.  Past experience by the instructors at Wausau has demonstrated the value of “Gate Training”.  Slalom gates, placed at a specific river features provides an opportunity to hone stroke & boat techniques used to safely navigate complex white water features. 

This year’s Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp will integrate slalom gate training with recreational river skills. Up to three Jr. Olympians per class will assist experienced local ACA certified instructors. The juniors will demonstrate technique, explain concepts and provide safety.  ACA certified instructors will lead the classes providing the next level of instruction. These lead instructors will be responsible for the assessment of student ability, establishment of appropriate teaching goals, direction of junior assistants and maintenance of safety. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, head coach Davey Hearn and his junior assistant will spend one hour per day with each class.  Coach Hearn will observe and advise students and instructors. Davey’s input will provide high-level guidance in the application of slalom skills & techniques for the improvement of river running and slalom racing.

Tuition Stipends: The folks at WACKO are doing their best to assist coaches and clubs active in the Jr. Olympics and Jr. National Slalom Development Programs.  The Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp has been purposefully scheduled to immediately precede the Wausau Jr. Olympic qualifier on June 27th.  This camp offers Jr. Olympians and hopefuls the opportunity to assist, teach and train with experienced coaches.  The opportunity to “tune up” in a relaxed but challenging environment includes four days of training and two days of racing, two weeks prior to the Junior Olympics.

WACKO Business Director, Tom Vollstedt has agreed to provide tuition stipends for junior athletes desiring to work as an assistant coach. Two stipends will be offered to a maximum of 10 juniors. Participation in both is required.

The first work-study stipend available is a tuition reduction for up to 10 junior assistant coaches. The work-study tuition will be reduced to $150.00 for Jr. Olympic assistant coaches. The fee will include five nights lodging, all meals and registration fees for all weekend events.   Each Jr. assistant will have a daily 1-hour, coached group sessions w/ coach Hearn on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th.

The second work-study stipend available is revenue variable. Jr. Olympic assistant coaches will receive additional tuition stipends of up to $75 for the evening Introduction to White Water Clinic sessions. The actual stipend will be dependant on enrollment. Assistant coach selection priority is first-come, first- serve, according to the following hierarchy: (1.) Past JO medallist or National Team Athlete,  (2) Past or current JO qualifier, (3) Referring coach designee*

Taken together, the stipends, room and board, and Training sessions with Davey make this an incredible value. Colleen is already signed up.

* Referring coaches can be ACA certified instructors. ACA or AW club directors and USACK development program directors. A referring coach placing 4 campers in the Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp will receive a Jr. assistant coach slot to assign to qualified student.

“Citizen Racer Instruction and open practice New this year, Wacko will offer a stand-alone coaching option for “Citizen Racers” wishing to improve their slalom skills. Coach Davey Hearn will be instructing several 1.5-hour sessions on Friday the 25th. Classes will be held during open water practice. Sessions will include approximately six citizen racers per group. Currently, the organizers hope to offer separate classes in K-1, C1-2 and OC1-2. Actual class groupings will be dependant on registration.

Finally, the Ray McLain White Water  & Competition Skills Camp will have a stand-alone option for “Race-Day Coaching”.  Coach Hearn will be available during all weekend events to provide on-site coaching for all racers. Race day coaching is most appropriate for those desiring to learn or improve their pre-race planning, design a warm-up routine, receive split times, get intra-run feedback and generally improve race results. 

In closing, I have written this info-letter because my daughter Colleen benefited greatly from the camp instruction she received at Wausau prior to her first Junior Olympics. I have been involved with the folks at WACKO for several season now and I am always impressed. Tom Wood and Tom Vollstedt have really gone the extra mile to put on a camp with something for almost every one interested in learning or improving their white water skills. Please support their efforts by signing up your students and passing this information on to someone who might be interested.

Camp details and registration is available on the WACKO website at http://www.wausauwhitewater.org



Mike Hickey

Colleen’s Dad


300 East High Street

Okawville, IL  62271

(618) 243-1063 office; (619) 972-8029 cell


Ray McLain Training Camp


Ray McLain Training Camp Junior Coach


Ray McLain Introduction to paddling


Citizen Racer Coaching by Davey Hearn

$25/session solo; $35/session tandem

Race Day Coaching by Davey Hearn


Non USACK member event insurance fee


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