Before you push off the bank, there are some essential things to know about white water rafting that will help keep you safe and equip you to best assist your team on the trip. Being informed about white water rafting will enable your whole group to better work together and start you off on a more successful trip. The best way to learn the ropes is simply to get in the raft and do it; however, there is plenty of information you should know beforehand that will help you prepare for the trip and many of the potential situations that could arise.
Wear appropriate clothing. Wear clothing that dries quickly. Swim suits and swim trunks are a great choice. Avoid cotton clothing. Choose non-synthetic materials instead. Sturdy water shoes are recommended. Shoes like flip flops that can come off easily should not be worn. Also, do not get in the raft without having a life jacket on.
Bring the right supplies. You will want sunscreen and a cheap pair of sunglasses for the trip. Bring an extra set of clothes to change into in case you get wet, especially if the weather is cold. Secure this at your destination or in a dry pack on the raft. Leave your car keys at the destination so there is no risk of them getting lost. Pack some water to drink and securely wrapped snacks.
Balance your boat. All riders should be strategically placed so that those of similar weight and paddling power are opposite each other.
Station the guide at the back of the boat. The guide will use his paddle like the rudder of a sail boat and move it back and forth to help steer the boat. More dramatic adjustments are made by placing your paddle in the water to one of the sides of the boat.
Understand white water rafting navigation commands for a smoother ride down the river. It helps to understand that if you want to turn right, you have to paddle on the left side of the raft. The guide will call out commands to navigate the raft safely around obstacles and through rapids. A command of "all forward" means everyone paddles forward. Other commands are "all rest" or "all back." Steering commands are "left back and right forward" or the opposite.
Know how to get unstuck from a rock. Sometimes, even in nicely flowing and rapid waters, a rock will come out of nowhere and get hung up under the raft, trapping you. Locate where the rock has the raft caught. Carefully shift the majority of the weight in the raft to the opposite side. Use your paddles in the water to push against the current and off the rock.
Stay safe if you fall out of the raft. If you can, swim back to the raft. In the event you can not get back to the raft, float on your back with your feet pointed down river until you get to a shallow spot or to the bank. Use your arms and paddle to guide you.