University of Calgary

Rafting the Bow

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floating down the river

Learn how to float the safe way


By Don McSwiney

The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre is holding its second annual Bow River Raft Float to teach rafting safety and help families have fun on the water.

river raft float“When I look at the rafting tragedies that have occurred over the last few years, I think it’s safe to say that many could have been prevented with some training and the right safety equipment,” says Rob Vickers, a trained guide and rafting coordinator with the Outdoor Centre.

“It’s unfortunate that many families who might like to try rafting won’t, because they think it’s dangerous. I want them to understand that when you know what you’re doing, rafting isn’t dangerous. In my opinion, it may be the best possible way to spend a lazy summer day.”

To educate Calgarians in river safety, the Outdoor Centre’s Bow River Raft Float will be held on June 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Qualified instructors will teach floaters river safety, how to manoeuvre a raft, how to identify river hazards and how to read river features. The float starts at Bowness Park and finishes at Prince’s Island.

“What makes this event so popular is the safety aspect and having the reassurance that qualified staff are on the water to help,” says Vickers. “It’s also very convenient—people just have to show up at Bowness. We transport the rafts and all the gear to the river for them.”

After participating in the day, floaters should have enough knowledge and training to safely and confidently navigate a raft down the river on their own.

“The river is safe if you use a little common sense,” says Vickers. “People can raft on the Bow River almost anytime, as long as safety is their first priority. That means paying attention to your surroundings, wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), no alcohol and always using a proper floatation vehicle like a raft or canoe—not an air mattress.”

To book a raft and register for the Bow River Raft Float, interested individuals can call 220-5038.