Whitewater Rescue (WWR)
Levels I & II - 2 Days

Gain skills and confidence through hands-on training

Build a solid foundation of skills and knowledge for paddling and travelling on rivers. Get hands-on practice and professional instruction. Gain the confidence to perform rescues and make smart decisions.

By taking the course, you can achieve international certification that is valid for 3 years. During that time, you can upgrade to the 'technician' level with the 2-day Whitewater Rescue Technician Bridge course.


  • 16 years and up. 16 & 17 year olds need written parental consent
  • Pre-course prep (see below)

Take away materials

  • Waterproof course manual: Whitewater Rescue Field Guide
  • Locking rescue carabiner & 5m of tubular webbing for your rescue kit
  • Certification card

What to expect

  • Get tons of hands-on practice with experienced instructors, a great learning environment, and a well-run course
  • Increase your knowledge of the river environment to avoid hazards and work with the water, not against it
  • Practice techniques such as swimming, wading, and throwing ropes to move around the river, perform self-rescues, and rescue others
  • Learn knots, anchors, and rope systems for use in equipment recovery and transportation
  • Gain the tools to carry out effective rescues with limited resources when river running 


  • General concepts of whitewater and swifwater rescue
  • Personal and group equipment
  • River safety and scene management
  • River signals and communications
  • River features and hydrology
  • Related medical topics: drowning and hypothermia

Basic skills

  • Swimming in moving water: self rescue and whitewater maneuvers
  • Throw ropes
  • Contact rescues
  • Introduction to quick release rescue harness and ‘live bait’ rescue
  • Rescue of panicked subjects
  • Shallow water crossings
  • Knots, anchors, and basic tensioning systems
  • ‘Strainer’ swim

Rescue problems & scenarios

  • Foot entrapment
  • Kayak, canoe, and raft pins and wraps
  • Managing flips and swims
  • Rescue simulations

Doing the pre-course prep will help pave the way for a great course. By learning this material beforehand, we can spend more time during your course practicing where it matters: on and around the river. 

Once registered, you’ll be emailed the Preparation Guide with full instructions and resources. You can work on this offline and it will likely take around 4 hours.


This is a general list of what to bring for Whitewater Rescue (WWR) courses. Please refer to your ‘student information package’ (emailed to you once you register) for a complete list specific to your course.

Equipment Rental is available. 

For the river:

  • Whitewater helmet
  • Whitewater PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
    Needs to be in good condition and fit properly. A quick-release harness is not mandatory for WWR students.
  • River shoes - closed toe
    River shoes with full toe coverage that are supportive but also lightweight and draining with a grippy sole. This could be a model made specifically for the river or a lightweight running shoe. Neoprene shoes can work if they have enough support and traction but neoprene socks or booties are not adequate.
  • Wetsuit or drysuit
    One of these is necessary for courses before mid-June or past mid-September in eastern or central North America. You'll always need one on glacier-fed rivers.
  • Base layers, insulation, and socks
    Make sure to have several layers of socks, pants, and tops made of wool, fleece, polyester, or another synthetic material to wear in addition to your wetsuit or drysuit (or to be worn on their own on sunny days and in warm water).
  • Surf shorts
  • Rash guard
  • Snacks, lunch, and water bottle or thermos
    Keeping yourself fuelled with calories is one of the keys to staying warm and happy. We usually don't stop for a long lunch break but instead, take several shorter eating breaks throughout the day so it is good to bring lots of food and things that don't require much preparation. Also make sure to have some high calorie snacks that you can keep in your PFD pocket.
  • Sunscreen, lip protection, bug repellent
  • Neoprene gloves (optional)
  • Neoprene head warmer (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Sunglasses or prescription glasses with strap (optional)

For on land:

  • Comfortable clothing
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Tuque (warm hat), gloves, or mitts for early and late season courses
  • Sun hat, visor, or baseball cap
  • Raingear
  • Gear bag or container to store your equipment for transport
  • Day pack or drybag to store your belongings during class
  • Pens and notepad

Consider the following items but refer to the ‘student information package’ for your course to see the accommodation options available and a more specific list:

  • Meals and cooking equipment
  • Camping equipment or bedding
  • Towel
  • Personal hygiene products and medications
  • Indoor clothing and shoes

If you have a group of 4 or more for one course, get 10% off the tuition. Each person can register individually. When the first student books, please let us know about the group along with everybody's name and we will apply the discount.

If you have a group of 6 or more for one course, get 15% off the tuition if you pay all together with one e-mail transfer or cheque. Contact us anytime to register your group.

Professional river guides and camp staff: see pro deals here.


Q. What is the daily schedule like on a Boreal River Rescue course?

A. After registering, you'll receive a 'student information package' with specific meeting times for your course. Typically class starts at 8:30am and goes to 6:30pm. There may also be an evening session that will be scheduled by the instructor on the first day.

Q. Are there any prerequisites?

A. Whitewater Rescue (WWR) Level I & II prerequistes:

  • 16 years of age to participate. 16 and 17 year with parental consent
  • Complete the 4 to 6 hour pre-course independent prep component 

Q. Is attendance mandatory?

A. Attendance for 100% of class time is mandatory. If you cannot make a session you must get permission from the instructor in advance. Students who miss a section of the course without pre-approval may be asked to leave the course for the sake and safety of the other students.

Q. How will I be assessed and evaluated for certification?

A. Practical assessment is ongoing within a supportive, professional, and fun learning environment. 

To achieve the WWR Level II certification you need to:

  • Attend all sessions and participate throughout the course
  • Demonstrate an understanding of river safety and river rescue skills

Q. How long is certification valid for?

A. Your certification is valid for three years from the date of issue.

Q. How do I get recertified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) Level II?

A. You should consider upgrading from Whitewater Rescue (WWR) Level II by taking the two-day Whitewater Rescue Technician – Bridge (WRT-Bridge) Level III course. Or you can recertify your Whitewater Rescue (WWR) Level II by re-taking the course.

Q. I have current certification but I'm not sure if the 2-day WRT Recert/Bridge Level III option is right for me or if I should take the 4-day WRT Levels I, II, & III course?

A. To successfully upgrade to the technician-level certification in two-days, it is important that you arrive for your course ready to use your skills and knowledge from your previous training courses and experiences. 

The 2-day option is great if you have been practicing most of your skills regularly and spending time in and around rivers during the three years since your last course. We recommend taking the complete 4-day WRT course if you would like more supervised practice time, if you haven’t spent very much time around rivers since your last course, or if you aren’t able to perform the skills outlined in the WRT-Bridge pre-course assignment.

Q. Can I take the WRT-Bridge or WRT-Recert course if my current certification is through another provider and not Boreal River Rescue?

A.  Yes.  Please contact the office for approval.

Q. How do I register for a course?

A. Choose a specific date from the list of upcoming courses displayed on each course page. Click “Details/Register” and follow the registration instructions or contact us

Q. What is the cancellation policy?

A. For Boreal River Rescue courses run by our office:

  • For cancellations more than 60 days from course start: full refund minus $35 registration fee.
  • For cancellations less than 60 days but more than 2 weeks from course start: 50% refund.
  • For cancellations less than 2 weeks from course start date: no refund.

For courses run by one of Boreal River Rescue’s training partners:

  • See the cancellation policy included in the 'student information package' for your specific course or contact the ‘course sponsor’ directly.

Get professional instruction and certification at your location or bring your group to us. Our instructors customize the instruction to meet your goals and needs. 

Visit the group training page to find out more.


All the info you need in your back PFD pocket

Available in EnglishFrench, and Spanish.

The Whitewater Rescue Field Guide is a useful tool that's easy to bring along when you’re on the water. The 100% waterproof and tear-proof manual folds up to fit into your PFD pocket. 

Boreal River Field Guide - English.jpeg

Written by our rescue instructors, it provides useful information, diagrams, and reminders on:

  • knots, anchors, & mechanical advantage systems
  • raft, kayak, & canoe pins and wraps
  • throw bags
  • live bait rescue
  • foot entrapment
  • whitewater swimming & swift water entries
  • shallow water crossing techniques
  • drowning & hypothermia
  • communications
  • emergency call
  • equipment checklist
  • rescue scene management

Order your copy


Upcoming courses

"The course was excellent and very informative. Lot’s of interesting information and professionally presented. Danny is a great communicator. Very concise."

- Tim Emmett - Professional climber and extreme athlete in preparation from his Nahanni stand up paddling and base jumping trip

Whitewater Rescue (WWR) course
Squamish, BC, Canada

"The instructors were so, so awesome. They just completely knew their stuff and were fun and supportive. Thanks guys! "

- Claire Burnard, canoe expedition leader, Camp Tamagami, Ontario

Whitewater Rescue (WWR) course
Gatineau River, Quebec, Canada