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Voyageur Paddling Program Information


Voyageur Paddling is offered at N.C.S. and St. Albans in the fall and spring as a physical education / athletics elective through the Voyageur Outdoor Education Program. This program is open to all upper-school students (grades 9 – 12) and meets the seasonal sports requirements that allow students the opportunity to earn Junior Varsity and Varsity credit. In addition, Voyageur offers multiple paddling trips open to all upper school students, throughout the year. 7th and 8th Grade Voyageurs have the opportunity to paddle in the STA Lawrence Pool as a component of Middle / Lower School Voyageur.

The Voyageur paddling program follows a teaching/curriculum progression that is based on the educational guidelines stated by the American Canoe Association and modified to meet the needs of our students, school schedule, and group makeup. We seek to develop safe, responsible paddlers through a well-planned progression of safety awareness and technical skill development. Beginners are introduced to the basics of paddlesport; while intermediate and advanced paddlers are challenged with new skills, river-running techniques, rescue systems and appropriate leadership opportunities.

Information For Paddlers

All Paddlers are required to attend class at least three days per week. Meeting locations and dismissal times vary from season to season depending upon group size, river level and experience. The schedule will be set and posted on the entry page of the website during the second week of each paddling season.

Class Locations:

Voyageur Paddling uses several locations including the Voyageur office in the NCS Athletic Center (AC202), the St. Albans swimming pool, the C&O Canal , and the Potomac River .

Paddlers are responsible for knowing the location of class on any given day. Class locations may change due to river level, weather, and/or modified lesson plans. Changes in schedule can take place at the last minute. If there is a question with regard to location, call the Voyageur office at 202-536-5545.


Voyageur athletes are held to the same guidelines as all NCS / StA varsity athletes. There are no sports cuts and no unexcused absences. Athletes must have a minimum attendance record of 75% to receive sports credit. We do understand the substantial academic and personal demands placed on our students, but appropriate planning is requested. Avoid scheduling routine appointments during your sports commitment. Contact your instructor PRIOR to sports if for some reason you will be unable to attend.


Every athlete paddling with the Voyageur Program is expected to ride to off-campus practice locations on the Voyageur bus. The Voyageur bus departs for the river from the parking area near the Beauvoir pool at 3:30pm and returns at 6:30.
Any paddler wishing to use personal transportation or wishing to be dropped off along our route back to the Cathedral Close must provide written permission stating the needs and effective dates, signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Required Paperwork:

Course / Trip Acknowledgement of Risk Forms: – Acknowledgment of Risks

Voyageur has all students (and their parents when the participant is under 18) sign and return this form. This form provides a generalized list of the risks inherent in Voyageur courses and establishes the principles that students share the responsibility for both individual and group safety while engaged in Voyageur Program activities .

Release for Treatment Forms:

All athletes participating in Voyageur Paddling must have a medical and release for treatment form on file at either NCS or StA. Instructors carry a copy of release for treatment forms for all paddlers during all trips off of the Cathedral Close.

Sports Fee:

Participation in the Voyageur Program requires an additional sports fee (currently $165. for each 10-week sports season). This fee is billed to the athlete’s account upon registration in a Voyageur Course.


Voyageur provides all boats, paddles, and paddling equipment needed. Some wetsuits are available, but students must provide proper clothing and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Personal boats and equipment may be used during Voyageur class time, but must be inspected by a Voyageur Instructor before use.

Course Requirements and Evaluations:

Advanced paddlers must maintain an up-to-date and accurate paddling log throughout the sports season. Instructors use an athlete’s paddling log to track progress and help set goal specific personal training programs.

Varsity and JV athletes are required to complete a written set of goals at the beginning of each season. Once completed, the goals must be e-mailed to the head instructor along with a request for a goals meeting. Athletes pursuing JV or Varsity Credit are required to meet with the head instructor to discuss goals within the first two weeks of the season. It is the athlete’s responsibility to make an appointment and meet with the instructor.

Safety evaluations are made daily and practical tests are presented throughout the sports season. Paddlers wishing to earn Varsity or JV credit must complete a Petition for Credit at the end of each sports season. Varsity and JV requirement sheets and Petition for Credit forms are available in the Voyageur office and on the Voyageur bus.


Optional paddling trips are offered throughout the school year on weekends and during breaks and are generally open to both students in the paddling program and all Upper School Students, faculty and staff. These trips are not required attendance for students in the paddling course.

We offer several optional paddling trips that DO NOT REQUIRE PREVIOUS PADDLING OR TRIP EXPERIENCE.

Annual trips during winter break and spring break have included:

  • Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, and Canoeing
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Wilderness River Expeditioning
  • Summer Break Trips are scheduled based on student interest.