MUCK offers whitewater escape from campus life

The organization plans to take a trip to Spring River in October.

For college students trapped amidst a maze of parking garages, residence halls and university buildings, the concept of exploring whitewater paddling seems both unaffordable and impractical.

The MU Canoe and Kayak Club provides the solution to these problems. MUCK, which has about 20 regular members, offers students the opportunity to learn and practice whitewater-kayaking skills on campus with university-owned gear, MUCK President Grant Heggie said.

“The main focus of our club is whitewater kayaking, because it’s fairly knowledge intensive, and it’s pretty hard to get into,” Heggie said. “Students can come into the club, we teach them everything they need to know, they can use our gear and then we run trips.”

MUCK’s trips allow students on campus to get away from campus life and test out their new skills on whitewater rivers across the region. Heggie said trips are taken to both local rivers and rivers in surrounding states.

“The closest whitewater river in Missouri is called the St. Francis,” Heggie said. “Outside of that river, the majority of the real whitewater run by Missouri boaters is down in the Southeast in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Where those three states meet, that’s like a magic place to run. There’s a lot of whitewater down there.”

Heggie said MUCK offers lessons and practices in the Student Recreation Complex pools on Sundays. Lessons are also held occasionally on Stephens Lake.

MUCK has a variety of certified whitewater kayak instructors, including John Holdmeier, former MU student and MUCK assistant president, who continues to help out as an instructor for the club.

“I’m a certified whitewater kayak instructor, and have been for about seven years now,” Holdmeier said. “That’s what I used to do for a job every summer —- teach whitewater kayaking out in North Carolina. I still try to come back and give everybody a good base of instruction.”

Heggie said MUCK plans a beginner trip every year, and this year’s trip will be held on the Spring River in northwest Arkansas on Oct. 9 and 10. Holdmeier will be both attending and instructing on the trip.

“It’s just Class II, nothing really hard,” Holdmeier said. “It’s a good river to get whitewater fundamental skills. There are plenty of good river features to practice those whitewater skills on. It’s nothing really crazy or scary but a good river to learn whitewater skills on.”

Aside from attending two pool sessions prior to the beginner's trip, Heggie said experience is not at all necessary for joining MUCK.

“Most of our members came into the club with no experience,” Heggie said. “A lot of times, people will come into the club and learn the skills, and they’ll go on to do things independently. A lot of people join the club, get into it and go out and become raft guides over the summer or pursue it on their own.”

It’s this chance to explore whitewater paddling that makes MUCK such an exciting experience for students.

“The main purpose of the club is to give people that opportunity to learn,” Heggie said. “Because where else in mid-Missouri are you going to get whitewater instruction?”

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