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Whitewater Fun: An Interview with Brand Ambassador Hannah Childs

Whether she’s whitewater kayaking, river surfing or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), Hannah Childs is all about water sports. A Protector Ambassador, she has a passion for embracing the outdoors and helping others do the same. The core of her spirit craves new adventures, however large or small they are, and she’s inspired by the friends around her and the new friends she continues to meet. Learn more about her love for riding the waves:

BP: Where’s your favorite place to kayak or SUP?
HC: In the river with friends! I really love Charles City Whitewater in Charles City, Iowa.

BP: What can’t you travel without?
My best paddling pal, Marty, and my dog Bella.

BP: What’s something you wish more people would know about river sports?
Just how much darn fun it is!

BP: What opportunities have opened up to you because of river sports?
The river community has given me my best friends — people who understand this desire to return to the river again and again.

BP: Sometimes rivers bring out the crazy in people. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on the water?
I saw a pontoon boat go over a low-head dam with two people in it. The boat made it past the dam and concrete apron, then broached on the bridge pier. The two people aboard climbed onto the bridge pier as the pontoon flipped just like a raft and continued downstream upside down. After the excitement of the firefighters picking the people off the bridge pier and the police hauling them off in cuffs, my friend was recounting the story to a man asking what happened. By the end of the story, the man said, “Yeah, that was my pontoon and that was my son”! They found the pontoon the next day, nine miles downstream hung up on a sand bar. Ouch!

BP: What are you doing to promote river sports to our youth and community?
Pursuing my paddling endeavors relentlessly and bringing everyone along for the fun! I volunteer by hosting clinics, meet-ups, demos, impromptu kayaking and surf lessons, river clean-ups and whitewater park projects. I assist with organizing Charles City’s whitewater weekend and promoting Iowa whitewater through social media. Iowa has one of the most altered ecosystems in the contiguous United States, and the rivers and streams are the last wild places we have. Getting more people paddling expands our appreciation and awareness. This strengthens stewardship, river safety and community for generations.

BP: What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve done?
It’s challenging learning new tricks with little or no advice/critique from more experienced paddlers. With a limited number of experienced paddlers in my area, I’m usually down to watching videos, asking where I can, and trial and error. When tricks start to work, it’s a great feeling!

BP: What’s something you’ve learned about yourself recently?
I am reminded every year just how much cold-water immersion I can take during the winter paddling months: which combination of gear keeps me the warmest and which gear I need to replace soon. Thirty-one degree water sure does grab your full attention!

BP: What do you want to be famous for?
I would be honored to be remembered for making an impact in the whitewater paddling community in my area. Helping people get started, progressing the sport to the best of my ability and building community through whitewater paddling.

BP: When’s your next competition?
I’m looking forward to a couple comps in June, one of which I’m helping organize at Charles City Whitewater on June 23. It’s fun for the whole family — come on up!

Have a passion for travel, adventure and spending time outdoors? We do, and we’re looking for like-minded people to share our story. Become a Protector Ambassador — download this form and email it to