YOW! Youth on Water Program

Help keep this program in our community by Donating here.

2023 Summer Update

We’re BACK to running our usual YOW & WOW programs this summer. This program empowers youth in our watershed through a river guide training program that increases river skills, knowledge, and connection to the rivers for the Skeena's next generation of community leaders. YOW nurtures a personal connection along with the development of valuable river safety, and decision-making skills to last a lifetime...and it's fun! We are stoked to take you out! Get in touch with us at [email protected].

2023 YOW & WOW Schedule

Terrace YOW: July 4-7 (Tuesday to Friday)

Terrace WOW: July 8 & 9 (Saturday & Sunday)

Gitwangak YOW: July 10-13

Gitwangak WOW: July 14-15 (Friday to Saturday)

Smithers YOW: July 17-20 (Monday to Thursday)

Witset WOW: July 21 & 22 (Friday & Saturday)

Witset YOW: July 24-27 (Monday & Thursday)

Hazelton YOW: July 31- August 3 (Monday -Thursday)

Hazelton WOW: August 4 & 5 (Friday & Saturday)


View the 2023 Program Info, Application Form and Waiver

If your community or group would like to conduct your very own YOW program - email us for the handbook! All our secrets, curriculum and teaching games are in there.


Email SWCC for more info.


The Future is YOW!

YOUTH ON WATER is so much more than an outdoor recreational experience! 

YOW is Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition's flagship program, offering 5 programs in 5 communities across the north, including various 1-3 day programs. YOW connects youth to the river, to their communities and to each other!

EDUCATION. Participants are introduced to swift water rescue training and they get to practice their new skills on every raft trip. The youth learn river and rafting skills that not only teach them how to be safe in moving water, but also help them build their skills to gain employment in the rafting or swiftwater industry. Local experts, elders or conservationists occasionally join the crew to teach youth about salmon, their habitat, and their importance to our ecosystem. Experienced guides and facilitators capitalize on the many learning opportunities out on the water!

CULTURE. The YOW program is developed in partnership with local communities and First Nations. Participants learn about the history and culture of this region and how we connect to the watershed and to each other.

LEADERSHIP. Our goal is that each participant makes new friends, connects with positive role models, learns new skills and becomes empowered as leaders! Can you imagine just how incredible it would feel to learn all the skills that would allow you to safely master a raft of your peers through a whitewater canyon?

CONNECTION. Learning, failing, succeeding and reflecting together to build connection to land, culture and each other. Healthy recreational opportunities help participants make lasting connections to the watershed. Some of the inspiring connections made through YOW have brought youth into other SWCC projects, such as CLAW (Conservation Leadership Action Workshops) and youth mentoring. 

STEWARDSHIP. With the help of local fish biologists, YOW participants gain a rare glimpse into the life cycle of Skeena salmon and trout. They learn how to identify and sample fish and understand the role of salmon and wildlife in the watershed. SWCC also educates participants about ecosystem management and how we all play a role in stewardship.

SAFETY. We believe that youth who understand river currents, hydraulics and navigation will be safer in and around the Skeena watershed. Participants learn how to read currents, recognize danger, choose the best line through rapids and identify which skills are needed if you fall out of the raft in rapids. Participants learn basic skills of self-rescue and how to rescue others. By the end of the program, each student comes away with real whitewater skills to apply on any river in the world and stay safe. 

FUN! It's exciting to learn and connect with tons of fun in one of North America's most extraordinary regions while rocking on the river!

The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition is dedicated to ensuring that the YOW program remains FREE to participants. This is made possible with the support of our partners: Patagonia and Glasswater Foundation.

The success of the YOW program is a testament to the unwavering support of our communities, First Nations, partnerships, generous donations and sponsorship from SWCC members, the committment from SWCC staff and volunteers, and, of course, through the participation of our youth! 

How can YOU support YOW?

  1. Make a Donation to the YOW program
  2. Can't donate financially? There are many other things the program needs.  Email us if you can contribute or have other ideas.
    • Canned salmon or other foods to help localize our lunch menu (bread, wraps, baked goods, crackers, veggies, dips, etc.)
    • Equipment repair & maintenance (rafts, wetsuits, spray jackets, etc.)
    • Program organizing: helping set up gear, washing gear, putting gear away, inventory equipment, etc.
    • Be a guest speaker – do you have an area of expertise that relates to our program?  We host guests on the water who can talk about salmon, cultural history, conservation, biology, ecology, leadership, etc.

SPRING TRAINING SESSIONS. We support Swiftwater Rescue Technician training and certification in partnership with Raven Rescue every spring.  A YOW or WOW graduate gets a reduced tuition fee and in some cases, SWCC will provide scholarships for YOW and WOW participants. This comprehensive swiftwater course focuses on the safe work procedures that personnel should follow if they must enter moving water in the course of their work. The curriculum emphasizes hazard assessment, site safety, self rescue, and a range of options for rescuing others, as well as the decision-making process required to choose the most appropriate rescue approach. This course is also highly recommended for anyone who operates a boat in moving water, and will prepare them to deal with a capsize. ~Raven Rescue Website

YOW EXPEDITION. At the end of each YOW season, SWCC will invite 2 outstanding youth from each of the YOW programs (there are 5 programs) to attend a 3-day upper Skeena whitewater expedition.  SWCC supplies the expedition equipment, safety team, rafting gear and meals. Camping equipment is also available.  It is during this expedition that we discuss and invite the participants to apply for our junior guide position for the following season.  

JUNIOR & SENIOR GUIDE POSITIONS. It is SWCC's long term goal to have the YOW and WOW programs be operated by former participants that have gone through all neccessary training to be a certified guide.  SWCC hires a Junior Guide each year that works hard to become a Senior Guide the following year and finally, a Trip Leader. We hope to train and certify several guides not only for the YOW and WOW programs (as we have had to outsource our guides in the past) but also to contribute to more rafting companies in the region.  This is our way of creating more skilled workers for a sustainable industry in our watershed.

  • Trip Leader: Year three+, Someone who is certified to guide raft trips on their own in all classes of rivers.
  • Senior Guide: Year two, Someone who can guide their own raft up to Class III and with the supervision of a Trip Leader in another raft when rafting rivers Class III or above.
  • Junior Guide: Year one, guide in training. Will row a raft with a Senior Guide or Trip Leader in the raft for teaching and training purposes.

Find out more about YOW!

Contact SWCC for more information:

Email: [email protected]

Ph: 250-842-2494

Join us on InstagramFacebook!