Wisconsin Canoe Instructor Shares His Passion for Paddling

Nick Pritchard from Winding Rivers Canoeing shares his passion for paddling with WI Paddle.  Nick is an American Canoe Association Level 3 tandem/solo River Canoeing Instructor from Menomonie, WI.  Nick is the owner of Winding Rivers Canoeing.


Winding Rivers Canoeing.  “Where the road ends, our journey begins.”

Winding Rivers Canoeing offers canoeing instruction ranging from tandem flatwater to solo river canoeing. We have scheduled instruction or we can set up private instruction for your group. Winding Rivers Canoeing is adaptable to meet each groups individual needs.

Here’s our interview with Nick.

Question. How did you get started paddling?

I paddled every now again while I was growing up but while I was in high school there was an opportunity to go on a 2 week whitewater canoeing trip around Wisconsin, so I signed up. They took us from barely being able to paddle in a straight line to successfully running Class III. After that trip I was hooked.


Q. What do you appreciate most about canoeing in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin offers such a variety of paddling experiences for all skill levels. Whether you want to run awesome whitewater or escape into a serene northern lake we have it all. We are also fortunate enough to have all of our waterways public, which isn’t the case in some states. Wisconsin also has a lot of water to paddle so there is always somewhere new to go, even if it is a little “no name” creek.


Q. What are some of your favorite places to paddle in Wisconsin and why?

One of my favorites is definitely the Flambeau River. It was the first whitewater that I ever paddled and it has never let me down since. I always have a good trip down the Flambeau. What’s even better about the Flambeau is that you can also do flat water trips and camp along the river. The river is also very accessible but much of it is still undeveloped so you can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Another favorite is the Boise Brule River. The Brule offers some unique experiences like ending your trip by paddling out into Lake Superior. It also offers some mild whitewater but what I love most about the Brule is how consistently technical it is. The Brule is relatively shallow but it is often fast moving with many rocks to dodge and a few fun ledges mixed in.

There are many more places that I love to paddle but the list would go on forever!


Q. What made you decide to become a canoeing instructor and what do you love most about teaching others?

Canoeing has changed my life and taken me to some absolutely beautiful places and I wanted to spread the sport with the hope that my students will have their own unique experiences. So, becoming an ACA Instructor was the logical progression for me. I also wanted to educate more folks on being safe out on the water; there are too many accidents that can be prevented with a little education.

Q. What is the most interesting or exciting thing you’ve experienced on a canoe trip?

Each trip offers its own unique experiences but the most interesting experience was seeing numerous polar bears when I paddled the Seal River. I also got to paddle with seals and beluga whales on that trip which was very exciting.


Q. What is Winding Rivers Canoeing?

Winding Rivers Canoeing is the business that I started with the goal of educating folks about canoeing and being safe on the water. There are very few places in Wisconsin/Minnesota that offer canoeing courses to the general public which makes it difficult for novices to get started. So, I decided that I would offer numerous entry level courses throughout the paddling season to give the general public the opportunity to get out on the water safely. I also offer more advanced courses for the folks that are more experienced.

In addition to canoeing courses, I also have on online store where I carry several high quality brands of paddling equipment.


Q. What do you love most about your business?

I love interacting with new people and hearing about their past experiences, or watching a student learn something new. I also love to get outside on the water with new folks and get away from my desk.


Q. What services do you provide?

I offer regularly scheduled American Canoe Association canoeing courses from QuickStart Your Canoe to River Canoeing and Flatwater Safety and Rescue.

I offer private instruction for different groups or organizations that are interested in having a course held specifically for them.

Lastly, I offer our online store which always has something at a discounted price. I am regularly adding new products to the store as well.


Q. Who can benefit from canoeing instruction with Winding Rivers Canoeing?

Anyone. Whether someone is just getting started or has been canoeing for many years they are sure to learn something from any of the ACA courses that we offer. Whether it is a new stroke or a handy tip it is my goal that everyone walks away from my courses with new knowledge and confidence.


Q. What inspired you to start your own canoeing business?

I knew that I was not interested in being behind a desk for 40 hours a week and I love sharing paddling with other folks so I decided to start Winding Rivers Canoeing. I hope to inspire people to paddle who may not have started canoeing otherwise.


Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I am offering two scholarships this season that will cover the cost of any course of the recipient’s choice. Applications are available on the Winding Rivers Canoeing website. Please spread the word to everyone who may be interested!