Do your best to ensure non-paddlers have a good impression of paddlers in general. Consider yourself a River Ambassador - I know I do. River access has been jeopardized on many popular runs due to the thoughtlessness of a few inconsiderate paddlers. Key areas to pay close attention to are:
- Change clothes in private
- Ask permission to park near personal property
- Be friendly to the locals
- Watch your speed in rural neighborhoods
- Don't liter
- Watch drinking in public
By following the above simple courtesies, you will gain many unexpected rewards. I have been given special permission to park right up next to rivers, had many great shuttles, learned about great places to eat, and much, much more. Local fishermen along the Savage River in Western Maryland have returned many lost paddles over the years. We have enjoyed our inside look at SAR (Search & Rescue) and ambulance services in West Virginia.
No Peer Pressure
Swiftwater rescue certainly has an element of risk involved. Proper training and practice helps to reduce this risk but never eliminates it. This class can have boaters with a very wide range of boating experience from novices to experts. I think the Clint Eastwood saying "Man has got to know his limitations" is very appropriate to this course. Each individual needs to determine for themselves whether to participate in any given exercise (and how they participate). When people are frightened, they tend to make mistakes and sometimes these errors can lead to injuries. When a rescuer becomes injured, the overall incident becomes much more complicated. Please respect each individual's risk tolerance.