Campus CultureOutdoor & Recreation

From whitewater rapids to the Rec pool, the Kayak Club is making waves

Photo courtesy Brooke Lewis.

What does it take to start a club at Boise State? For three finance majors, it was their shared love of kayaking. 

Third-year students Zane Lowe, Brayden Olson and Brayden West co-founded the Boise State Kayak Club in hopes of organizing a community of student kayakers. Now, they’re looking to make waves across the campus community. 

According to Olson, the club’s president, the Kayak Club originated in the Outdoor Program’s weekly kayak sessions at the Rec Center. 

“The Outdoor Program holds weekly pool sessions, and there was a group of us consistently going to the pool for kayaking,” Olson said. “We decided that it was such a cool community that we wanted to expand it and grow. There’s also a lot of history with kayaking at Boise State, and nobody had made the effort to formally establish a club.”

West was introduced to kayaking last spring after signing up for the Outdoor Program’s class on a whim. Soon after, he convinced Lowe to do the same.

“We thought it would be really cool if we could give everybody else that same experience that we’ve had,” West said. “It’s kind of rare to be in the right place to have … people who know what they’re doing to show you and guide you, so we thought it’d be a great opportunity [for] people who wouldn’t normally have that chance.” 

The Kayak Club welcomes seasoned kayaking enthusiasts, but as a newer kayaker himself, Lowe encourages anyone to hop on board, regardless of skill level. 

“I was obviously a little intimidated at first. I know we all are, but you can start on some really mellow stuff,” Lowe said. “That’s what I started on, and I sort of eased my way into it. I’m still very much a beginner … you can start small and work your way up.”

The Kayak Club is looking to schedule kayaking trips throughout the summer season in addition to attending pool sessions at the Rec, where beginners can practice kayaking in a safe, positive and fun environment.
Currently, the Outdoor Program is offering free kayak and stand-up paddleboard sessions from 2-4 p.m. every Sunday at the Rec’s Aquatic Complex. All gear is provided, and instructors are present to teach the fundamentals to newer kayakers.

[The club’s Instagram (@kayakclubbsu) shows club activities and meeting times.]

“Kayaking can be for everyone, and I think if you give it a shot, the majority of the time [people] love it, and they come back,” Olson said. “We have a lot of people who come to the pool sessions just to be there. It’s just an inclusive environment.” 

For the time being, Kayak Club is hosting its meetings during the weekly pool sessions, but as more members join, Olson said the club will decide on a meeting time that works for everyone. The club is also looking to host a meeting once a month outside of the pool sessions to invite guest speakers, host additional lessons and discuss potential trips. 

“We haven’t come up with any trips yet, but we’re planning for the summer, hopefully some trips to Wyoming … or possibly Montana, and then definitely some closer ones in Idaho,” Lowe said. “We [are trying] to make them all expenses paid for food and gas and travel … since [as a club] we do have a little bit of funding.” 

Olson emphasized the unique opportunity Boise State students have to engage with kayaking, not only due to the range of resources provided by the Outdoor Program, but also because of the university’s physical location. 

“I think Boise as a city is one of the top places to be a kayaker in the country because of the resources we have here, especially as a student at Boise State with the rental equipment from the Outdoor Program, with access to the pool, with access to the river … and then also the whitewater that’s a half-hour away,” Olson said. 

Additionally, campus is only a short drive away from the Boise Whitewater Park, which can also be accessed through the Boise Greenbelt.

For some newcomers, kayaking may be a cause for intimidation at first glance, but the Kayak Club continues to encourage all students to take part in Boise’s close-knit kayaking community.

“I would say from personal experience, you never know if you’re gonna really like something until you step out of that comfort zone,” West said. “I think if people took a chance, they might actually like [kayaking], and it’s not a huge commitment. Come pop by, and see if you like it.” 
Prospective members can reach out to the Boise State Kayak Club through Engage and the club’s Instagram page (@kayakclubbsu).

[Photo of a person kayaking.]
Photo courtesy Brooke Lewis.
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