From the President | Oregon Whitewater Association

Message from the OWA President

As President of the Oregon Whitewater Association, I’d like to welcome you to our club!  I believe that OWA represents a model of what a social club is about and is the premier whitewater club in the Pacific Northwest.  Feel free to browse the website to get to know us better and please send us a message if you have any questions. We hope that you will consider dropping in at one of our monthly meetings, where the people are fun and the pizza is free. We look forward to your joining our ranks as a member.

I started paddling canoes on the Willamette River, Multnomah Channel, and the lakes on Sauvie Island in 1982. In the following years I started backpacking and doing multi-day canoe trips. One of my favorite canoe trips I took is where we started on the McKenzie River in Eugene and paddled to the St. Johns Bridge in Portland. That took us a week and I got to paddle a canoe through the locks in Oregon City. Not many people can say they've done that!

Then, in 1995 I was looking for a new adventure and a friend suggested we take a 3 day rafting trip on the Deschutes River from Warm Springs to Sandy Beach. We got a hold of a borrowed 13' raft with so many holes in it that one person was assigned to constant air pumping duty, a 2 man inflatable kayak and off the four of us went! We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, but it was an amazing trip and I was hooked. I came home from that trip and was an instant convert from backpacking to rafting. Since then I've floated many rivers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, met some great friends and had some incredible experiences.

I joined OWA in 2007 and was instantly welcomed in and made to feel like I was part of the family and that's a tradition that we strive to continue today. Nobody has too little experience or isn't ready yet. We sponsor classes, training trips and outside of those nearly every club member is willing to offer advice about everything related to whitewater boating from how to rig your boat to how to do dishes in camp to how to run a rapid.

As a club, we have many different types of trips on our trip calendar ranging from challenging class 5 to more mellow family trips. Whatever your preferred boating style is, you can find people who share your passion in OWA.

We often get the question “Why should I join OWA”. If I haven't convinced you already, here are some more benefits:

  • First and foremost it’s a great way to meet new people and have a great time
  • We are family friendly and many current member families met on club trips
  • A full year of organized and scheduled river trips and club events
  • Monthly club meetings featuring quality presentations and free pizza
  • A unique website that provides you with useful timely information on rivers, members, and events
  • Monthly newsletters
  • Access to member only safety classes including: Swiftwater Rescue & Wilderness First Aid at a greatly reduced rate off typical retail price
  • Access to member only deals
  • Winter pool session for river rescue practice
  • Exclusive email for members to communicate
  • Exclusive Facebook group for members to communicate

Club Organization & History

OWA was formed in 2000 as a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.  The group is centered in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington but we have active members spread over several western states.  Our mission is to provide a strong and active club for safe recreational boating.  This mission allows us to focus on being a social club where you can have fun, meet new boaters and participate in group activities such as river safety events and training.  The club is governed by a volunteer board and numerous committed volunteers.

There are two teams of people that have worked very hard over the past years to make this club what it is.  While they do not get much of the glory, the members are the ones that make this club what it is, without an active and friendly group of members the club would stagnate and eventually dissolve.  I believe that is the single biggest thing that sets OWA apart from many other social clubs.  In addition to the members at large the board members that have served over the years have shaped this club into what it is today.  Our founding officers provided a strong foundation and the current board continues to be very dedicated to following that model and making this club an awesome organization.  There are too many names to mention here but I would like to recognize the past presidents for their special contributions:

Past Presidents
Tom Hanson                       Term: 2000 - 2002
Brent Davis                        Term: 2003 - 2006
Cary Solberg                      Term: 2007 - 2008
Brenda Bunce                     Term: 2009 – 2012 
Bruce Ripley                       Term: 2013 - 2016
Scott Ogren
President, Oregon Whitewater Association