Kayak Lessons; Beginner through Advanced


NOTE- WE DO NOT HAVE ONLINE REGISTRATION! You MUST call (301)840-7388 to schedule/pay. If you have a discount voucher you may EMAIL us at kayak@valleymill.com with your requested date/time from the schedule. Please include your voucher number and contact phone number in your email If the date/time is available, we will confirm your reservation by emailing you back. If you are not using a voucher, payment in advance is required for all reservations by calling (301)840-7388

Valley Mill Kayak School Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Whitewater Kayaking Lessons, things to bring, and cancellation policy.

OUR BEGINNER LESSONS START IN MAY (Conditions permitting) and end on OCT. 1st
Here is a video of one of our Whitewater Level 1 lessons from the summer of 2012. The whole lesson wasn't filmed, but you can see some of it here.

Filmed and edited by Chris Ziegler

2014 Lessons begin in May.


Sat. MAY 3rd 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 10th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sun. MAY 11th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 17th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sun. MAY 18th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 24th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sun. MAY 25th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 31st 11:00am-2:00pm

ONLY SCHEDULING MAY DATES AT THIS TIME. check back for June dates/times. Schedule subject to change.

SEASON ENDS OCT 1st- If you have a voucher you need to email your voucher info/codes to kayak@valleymill.com before OCT. 1st to get an extension. All those who do so before Oct. 1st will get an extension to use their vouchers in May of 2014 when our on- river season begins again.

2014 SCHEDULE for WHITEWATER KAYAKING LEVEL 2 (Mastering the Roll)
(completion of LEVEL1 is REQUIRED! )

Sat. MAY 10th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sun. MAY 11th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 17th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sun. MAY 25th 11:00am-2:00pm

Sat. MAY 31st 11:00am-2:00pm



Dates/Times vary and will be determined at sign up.

Weekday group lessons can be arranged. Minimum group size is 10 students
Weekday and Weekend private lessons can be scheduled by calling (301)840-7388

IF YOU HAVE A COUPON VOUCHER= have it in front of you before you call or Email to schedule ! We need the code off the voucher to confirm your reservation.

Valley Mill Kayak School is a Jackson Kayak Super School, meaning we only use Jackson Kayaks, the number one brand in the kayaking industry. We use the new Jackson Fun Runner in our instructional programs. It is the perfect kayak to learn in, because it is comfortable, stable, and it is easy to paddle and roll.

BEGINNER Whitewater LEVEL 1LESSONS take place at Riley's Lock, which is just a few minutes down the road from Valley Mill . LEVEL 2 whitewater may take place at Valley Mill or Riley's Lock.

DO NOT use GPS or online mapping websites to find us!!!! They may take you to the wrong location.

Call to sign up and pay for any of these lessons (301)840-7388

** Please note: We do not give refunds on lessons, lesson packages, or Discount Vouchers and will only offer credit for future lessons- no exceptions! **

See Our Cancellation Policy at the Bottom of this Page

sit on top
Valley Mill instructor Milan Rusnak works one on one with a student during the wet exit progression of the beginner lesson #1

A detailed description of the Jackson Fun Runner from Jackson Kayak founder and president, Eric "EJ" Jackson. You will be using the newest, and one of the best kayaks in the industry for all your beginner lessons with Valley Mill.

You have the option of purchasing 1, 2, or all three of these introductory lessons that focus on all the basic fundamental skills needed to give you a solid foundation on which to launch you into the amazing world of kayaking. Whether you ultimately intend to just paddle easy flowing rivers, or ‘go big’ and run class 4 and 5 whitewater- this is where it all begins! Lesson #1-The Basics #2-Rolling #3-Easy Whitewater . These are our introductory courses designed for beginners/novices. Each class is 3 hours in length and all kayaks and gear are provided for all lessons. Beginner lessons take place May through Sept. Price: $105 per class.

Purchase a package of all three Lessons for $295 and receive an instant free membership in our Sunday Social Club*! When you purchase the beginner series package you can take all the time you need to complete all three lessons, while attending the social club sessions all season. Doing this will provide you with the three most important elements to improving your paddling:

1. time in your boat
2. time in your boat
3. time in your boat

Never been in a whitewater kayak before? No problem! We cover all the basics to get you started and our goal is to make sure you take the sport as far as you want to go.This lesson is aimed at the "total beginner", meaning, someone who has never been in a whitewater kayak before. If you have been in other types of kayaks, you still need to take this lesson, because whitewater kayaks handle differently than other kayaks. Don't underestimate the importance of this lesson! Topics covered in this class include:

-The Gear- learning what it’s for, and how to wear it correctly.
-Kayak outfitting- getting to know your Jackson kayak’s features and how to properly fit in your kayak. We are the only Jackson Kayak Super School in the DC area! We only use Jackson kayaks, because they are the most comfortable, easy to paddle, and easy to roll kayaks on market today. This is why they are the #1 brand in whitewater.
-The paddle- how to hold it and use it correctly on flat water.
-Basic Strokes and Concepts- learning to control your kayak on flat water with a few easy strokes. We will also cover kayaking concepts such as speed, angle, arc, and spin momentum.
-Bow rescues- using your buddy’s bow to upright yourself after a flip(in flat water)The .Introduction to the brace and roll- learning the mechanics of how the brace and roll (Eskimo roll) works using the ‘hip snap’ technique. This lesson takes place entirely in calm, flat water, either on our Lake, our beautiful outdoor pool, or at Riley's Lock. This is where it all begins!
CALL (301)840-7388 ) TO SCHEDULE and PAY over the phone. All reservations must be paid in advance.

ROLLING- (takes up where lesson#1 left off) The importance of the Brace – how to use your paddle to keep from flipping. The better your brace is- the less you roll! Rolling- solidifying your ‘onside’ roll in flat water Strokes and concepts- introducing you to more advanced strokes; the C-stroke, S-turns, compound strokes, and sprints to master control of your kayak. Paddle dexterity- we will show you drills to help make your paddle an extension of your body. Paddling skills and concepts: paddling on edge, accurate use of speed, and spin momentum.The primary goal of this lesson is to get you rolling, so that is where the main focus will be! The entire lesson takes place in our outdoor pool, or at Riley's Lock. Rolling improves your confidence, and also greatly improves the likelihood that you will stick with the sport.
CALL (301)840-7388 TO SCHEDULE.

RIVER RUN- (You MUST have a reliable roll to take this lesson) : Moving Water/Easy Whitewater (takes up where lesson #2 left off) More Rolling- here is where we ‘bomb- proof’ your roll. We build your confidence in your roll and brace through simulating ‘real life’ scenarios in flat water, then move onto moving current, and then easy whitewater- we work at your pace here. We introduce you to class 2 whitewater in this lesson.You will also work on strokes and concepts (learned from lessons #1 and #2) to control your kayak in easy whitewater while executing basic river maneuvers such as ferrying, peel-outs, and catching eddy’s on the fly. The ‘roll test’- rolling in class 2 whitewater. Here is where ‘the rubber meets the road’ as they say. Nothing builds confidence like getting your first “combat” roll. Your newly found confidence will give a sharp boost to your learning curve once you’ve had a breakthrough in this class! This lesson takes place on the river. You will do a river run on the GW Canal portion or Mather Gorge of the Potomac River( class 2-3). Call to sign up! (301)840-7388 Dates/times vary, but take place on Sat/Sun through the season.

*What is our social club you ask? Our social club is a weekly informal paddling session where we meet up to paddle as a group to practice all our skills and have fun together on the water under the supervision of a VMKS instructor. The sessions are three hours in length. These practice sessions are on Sundays from May(conditions permitting) through the end of September and are free for those who purchase the beginner series package of lessons. Cost is just $20, paid in advance by calling (301)840-7388.

Anyone else needing a kayak and gear may attend a session for just $20 if they have taken a beginner lesson previously- After each session, plan on hanging out for a bite to eat, a cold beer, and story swapping. It’s a great time, on and off the water, and you get to know your fellow paddlers better in the process- come join us and be social! -call (301)840-7388 or email kayak@valleymill.com to sign up!

STROKES AND CONCEPTS CLINIC(Also Offered at the Sunday Social Club)
This lesson stresses mastery and maintenance of all the strokes required for whitewater kayaking on any level. We will show you the proper technique to master your forward, reverse ,C-stroke, S-turns, reverse compound stroke, draws, and many more. You will learn drills that will strengthen your fundamentals, improve your strokes, and take your paddling to the next level. Purchase 2 or more Strokes and Concepts Lessons at one time, and receive a discount on the video “EJ’s Strokes and Concepts” at Valley Mill Boats.
Call to sign up! (301)840-7388


Here is a video of a play session at "Portage Hole" on the Potomac River, featuring Stephen Wright( Valley Mill alumni) and Rob Terry both from Team Jackson Kayak. Portage Hole is just one of many awesome playspots on the Potomac River that are perfect for fine tuning your freestyle skills.We know every single spot at every river level. Let Valley Mill show you how to improve your skills, and take it to "the next level"

This is the ultimate in personalized instruction! Work one on one with a VMKS instructor and quickly improve any aspect of your paddling that you want to focus on. Refine your stroke technique, learn a new rodeo move, or shave time off your upstream gates on the slalom course, learn a new roll, or gain some safety knowledge. Private lessons can be scheduled for any day of the week with advance notice, but take place mainly on weekends.


This series of lessons is designed for the kayaker who is ready to take his/her skills to the next level. To be eligible to participate in a “next level” lesson you must have all the prerequisite skills, such as a reliable roll - refer to our beginner series.You must have your own kayak and gear (rentals can be arranged at the normal fee of $75 per hr) Each of the following is offered as a private lesson, with a discount off our normal rate of $75 per hr. for 2013. This is the absolute best level of instruction available; one on one with one of our best instructors.

RIVER RUNNING CONCEPTS- 4 Hrs. Cost: $200 (This is a Private Lesson!)
This lesson is designed for those who are comfortable in class 2 whitewater, and want to ‘up the ante’ to more challenging class 3 whitewater, while having a river running experience. This is what kayaking is all about! Traveling down a river with a group of paddlers- your friends, from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, and all the stuff that happens in between! We will cover the basic river running strategies and concepts such as; scouting a rapid/reading water, risk management/safety, strokes and more! The section of Potomac River where we choose to conduct the class may vary due to river levels/conditions, but plan on 4 hours of intense paddling. Little Falls is just one section of river that we use for this class.
Call to sign up and schedule(301)840-7388

PLAY THE RIVER LESSON- 4hrs. $200 (This is a Private Lesson!)
We’ve taken our 4 hr. River Running Concepts Lesson and combined it with a play boating state of mind. This lesson is about maximizing the play potential of every river feature to just have more fun! After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? You will learn where every wave, hole, splat rock, eddy line and other play opportunities are in the rapids that you’ll be running with our top freestyle experts. Learn the basic moves like stern squirts, or learn to get more air on your loops- and everything in between. We cover fundamentals through advanced technique- catered to your needs. The section of Potomac chosen for this lesson may vary depending on river levels and conditions, but prepare to “leave it all on the river”.
Call to sign up and schedule (301)840-7388

KNOW YOUR ROLL LESSON- 4hrs. $200 (This is a Private Lesson!)
How’s your roll these days? Do you have an ‘onside’, but lack a solid ‘offside’? Can you roll without a paddle? Can you do a back deck, or a ‘dry head’ roll? If the answer is no- then this 4 hr. lesson is for you. Our ultimate goal is to get you to roll “instinctively”- no matter what, on both sides, with or without a paddle. We also stress the importance of the brace as it relates to the roll, (after all- the brace is the roll) and we cover several bracing techniques to make the likelihood of having to roll- less likely. The goal is not to just make your roll better, but to make it “bomber”! Call to sign up! (301)840-7388


RISK MANAGEMENT AND RIVER SAFETY LESSON- 4hrs. $200 (This is a Private Lesson!)
When it comes to kayaking- it’s all about managing the risks, no matter what your skill level, to be a safe on the river. We take a no- nonsense, common sense approach to the most common rescue scenarios you will encounter as a kayaker. We cover the basics like; river hazards and how to spot/avoid them, safety gear and how to use it properly, how to swim a rapid correctly, how to throw a rescue rope (and catch one), boat- aided rescues, signals, and more. You will throw ropes to swimmers and unpin pinned kayaks using ropes with mechanical advantages in this lesson. You will be challenged in this lesson with mock rescue scenarios and be expected to act quickly and efficiently as a team (or alone) to rescue your friend(s). Let’s hope you never have to use these techniques you’ll be learning, but chances are, if you kayak for long enough- you will encounter an emergency at some point- or be in need of a rescue yourself! This lesson is physically demanding, intense, and absolutely essential if you plan on running rivers. Location of this class varies.
Call to sign up and schedule(301)840-7388

These are some of the things you should consider bringing to class with you to make sure you have a more enjoyable experience on the river. Do not underestimate the value of these items! We’ve been doing this for quite a while, and experience has shown us that the student who comes prepared, has a better time on the water. Here’s the list:

1) Completely filled out, legible health history form and waiver! This is mandatory- we will have extras on site, but filling these out ahead of time will save time on the day of your lesson. Download them off our website.

2) Plenty to drink- staying hydrated is very important with any physically demanding sport, so bring water with you everytime you paddle.

3) Sunscreen- you could be in the sun for up to 4hrs in some of our lessons. A bad sunburn is the most common kayaker ailment.

4) Snacks- you’ll be burning lots of calories, and you will need the energy supply, so bring something to snack on like a powerbar wrapped in a ziplock sandwich bag or drybag.

5) Proper footwear- we recommend kayak specific shoes because they fit better in low volume kayaks. Any thick soled shoe will probably not fit in your kayak. You MUST protect your feet from sharp rocks, glass, metal, sticks, or anything else that might be in the river- no bare feet allowed.

6) Nose plugs (will be provided for all beginner lessons)- this is a very recommended piece of gear! If you think you don’t need them, then go stick your head upside down in a bathtub full of water for ten seconds and see what happens. Being upside down in the river is less fun if you are uncomfortable! We will have a limited supply available for sale at your lesson for $10.00 ea.

7) Straps for eye wear- If you don’t want to lose your glasses, bring a strap to keep them on, or they could be lost to the river.

8) Dry bag- These are a great way to maintain your stuff, and keep it from getting stolen from your car while you are on the river- always protect your valuables!

9) Layering- we supply the following; kayak, paddle, spray skirt, helmet, and pfd, but do not have layering gear for our students- that you have to buy. Items like: paddling tops, polypro, neoprene, rash tops, thin skin, etc. You WILL be wet the entire lesson and will need to keep your body temp regulated. Our lessons take place rain or shine, and you would be surprised how cold you can get on a cloudy, windy day in July when you are wet, so come PREPARED. Wet suits are ok, but they are better suited for scuba, than kayaking.

10) Medications- If you need to take any meds for any reason bring them with you- notify your instructor and they can hold onto them for you.

Enjoy your time on the river!

IMPORTANT: Our Cancellation Policy We do NOT give refunds on any lesson, lesson packages, or discount vouchers purchased. If we cancel a lesson, due to high river levels, or inclement weather, we will issue a make-up date, according to availability on our schedule. We do not give refunds for any reason whatsoever. We will issue a credit towards future lessons, if needed, but no refunds will be given. You may transfer your lesson, or lesson package to someone else, but they must meet eligibility requirements prior to taking any lesson. If you need to reschedule or cancel your lesson, we require proper advance notice. You must contact us by close of business at least 24hrs prior to your lesson start time

. Failure to give sufficient notice, or not showing up for your lesson, is considered a “no-show” and you will forfeit your lesson and not be given a refund= NO EXCEPTIONS !!! If you cancel with proper notice, you may reschedule according to availability on our schedule. If you have any question whatsoever considering our policy, please don’t hesitate to call us! (301)840-7388 Thank You

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