Core Values

World Class values the ability to give and receive an education far beyond the normal high school curriculum by visiting extraordinary settings with driven people. Our graduates feel they have graduated from a program that provided an education preparing them far better than the average student upon entering college. Key aspects of this preparation lie in the small class sizes and the ability to adapt learning situations to the surrounding environment. Education and experience are connected to allow students to walk away with the fundamentals they would get from a more traditional institution plus have experience to back up these concepts. Our teachers love creating a more individualized approach to a more global education, focused on active student participation in the educational process.


WCKA has the unique role of helping adolescents learn how to function in the world by traveling away from home. In doing so the school helps those students learn to make decisions and to interact with each other and with adults. Through this process they are taught there are real consequences to their actions, whereby they are able to become more independent problem solvers. In the end, we want to know that we have helped give a young person a chance to experience something that may change the course of their life for the better. The potential to have such an impact helps students become responsible and capable with the capacity to go where they want in life.

World Class makes safety a priority in all aspects of daily paddling, activity and travel. Kayaking is a unique sport because of the inherent dangers associated with whitewater. We prepare our students for swift water rescue situations to give them the tools to respond quickly and efficiently to scenarios, while also adhering to daily protocol and safety policies, such as our Golden Rules to create a culture of preparedness and risk management. In the end, we are family and want to protect our loved ones by working hard to give them the tools to look out for each other and to make sound decisions in an unpredictable world.

World Class views kayaking as an individualized sport with a team approach. There is important experience and insight gained from such commitment: responsibility (self-reliance) and in achieving this, forwarding the team objective. This process is facilitated by the wish to surround oneself with a group of people passionate about life and what they chose to do with it. This attitude is contagious and inspiring although the group process is sometimes a struggle. Ultimately, the formation of a tight knit group that comes from close interaction and living together for four months engenders respect and acceptance of people’s differences. To be part of such a team through a sport as great as kayaking helps participants see the value of having to work for something – to sacrifice for something greater. The result is to see leadership emerge from unlikely sources and in unlikely ways.

Being an athlete is a core part of what it means to become a kayaker and is a fundamental aspect of our program. The chance to take a sport you are passionate about and to truly dedicate yourself to becoming the best you can be is a privilege that not many people get in their lifetime. To be pushed to expand your limits by healthy competition and to learn sportsmanship in this way brings everybody together and is the reason why people join the school. Within the kayaking discipline freestyle and river running deem equal weight and serve as the bread and butter of the program. This aspect remains an inherent part of the program and provides students with the best paddling they can handle in a safe fashion, although it is paramount to adapt these needs to the group’s abilities and desires. In doing so participants are able to train in a supportive setting where techniques to ensure their safety with the school and for later when they are out on their own are taught and reinforced. Through this daily challenge, kayaking gives us confidence to solve problems we are confronted with in all other aspects of life and provides an opportunity for talented young kayakers to train while receiving a high school education.

There is a feeling when someone comes back after the program and describes what an incredible part of their life WCKA was and will be. Not only parts that seemed incredible at the time, the rivers and the kayaking, but also parts that were difficult—cultural issues, discomforts of travel, the unpleasant hike, the classes, the cold, the epic… Having experienced these adventures safely, both on and off the river is to have created and adhered to procedure and customs. On the other hand, quick thinking is inherent in these experiences and is necessary for moments like paddling a class V rapid, where one has to respond instantly. The same goes for logistics, we are on the move and surroundings change every day. New problems arise at the most unexpected—and sometimes inconvenient—times.

Exposure to a wholly different culture and economic situation is fundamental to the World Class experience. It motivates people to travel together and to learn about human differences and similarities. Meeting people who live in huts and who are willing to trade crafts for clothes because they cannot be obtained any other way is important. Bearing witness to and being able to contribute to communities in these areas gives a whole new perspective to what we have and expect from life. Encouraging young people to explore and to extend their boundaries of comfort helps them gain a deeper understanding of the world and its natural wonder – we believe great things will come of this. Every person who is involved with the school will experience a totally unique cultural impression that will be imprinted onto the character of that individual for his or her entire life. Whatever perspective gained through traveling the globe, kayaking, and building life-long relationships, it is an important thing that World Class Kayak Academy gives its participants.

The river community, wherever we may be located, is such an important aspect of our lives that we want to provide it with: leadership, positive role modeling, safety, and stewardship. We believe that by doing so we may help open the door for others, particularly with regard to the places we visit repeatedly. Our home base in Missoula, Montana is an example where this integration has occurred through participation in the Milltown Dam removal effort, raising funds and awareness for the Brennan’s Wave project, and participation in river clean-ups. Making positive contributions to the life of a community will inspire support during times of need and a sense of ownership in success.

World Class students and teachers seek immersion in other cultures – not to just live as tourists. A key component of this belief is to give back when we visit instead of taking advantage of what destinations have to offer without reciprocation. By having a positive impact on the social and ecological environment World Class is able to demonstrate this commitment while also raising awareness of important issues facing these communities. This ideology furthermore creates a balance between the focus of self-interest and an awareness of the needs of our destination communities. By doing so we strive to provide an important example, whereby the possibility to do something you love and to still fulfill an obligation to society is recognized.


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