A LITTLE ABOUT US
We are a group of friends that want to share our love of whitewater kayaking with others. We have all felt the positive impact and power that rivers can have on people and friendships. We have travelled the world as paddlers, created lifelong friendships as paddlers, laughed, cried, hooped and hollered as paddlers. The river has shaped and changed our lives in such a strong way that we now want to pass that love and power onto others.
River Culture Kayaking is a whitewater kayaking instructional business designed to do exactly that. We offer courses tailored to paddlers ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Both day programs and overnight weekend programs are available and take place throughout the Sea to Sky corridor.
"You both have the patience of saints I still can't believe how great you guys were (lots of patience testing moments every 5 mins - and yet you both stayed Zen while also hyped up... great balance)...You guys babied me when I needed it while also giving me independence to grow during the right moments. It was the perfect balance and I felt like you both could have paddled up a waterfall to save me from going down it if necessary... Can't thank you enough for the confidence and experience"
Melissa, RCK alumni
Kiah Schaepe - Founder and Instructor
Kiah first began paddling on the Chilliwack River at the age of 15 and has been pursuing his passion for whitewater ever since. After graduating with a degree in biology and environmental studies, Kiah moved to Whistler where he was able to develop more experience paddling challenging whitewater. During the off-seasons, Kiah travelled to various paddling destinations such as New Zealand, Chile, Ecuador, Sumatra, the Southeast, and Vancouver Island.
Outside of kayaking, Kiah has gained significant experience working with youth in the outdoors. He completed an internship at the Cheakamus Center doing outdoor education and currently works as a teacher and coach for a world-traveling, kayaking focused high school called World Class Academy. During his summer’s off, Kiah calls Squamish home.
When not on the river, he can be found mountain biking, hiking, or drinking a cup of coffee. Kiah would like to apply his passion, experience, and education towards becoming a better steward of BC’s rivers and contribute to the paddling community in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.
Russell Henry - Founder and Instructor
Some people joke and say that Russell was conceived in a kayak. This could be true, but most likely a sea kayak! Russell grew up in Victoria in a kayaking family getting out on the ocean regularly in a sea kayak and occasionally in a surf boat. It wasn't until he left home and moved to the mainland that he found his way into a shorter, more rotund, more robust whitewater kayak. That was a decade ago, and Russell's been paddling hard since. Still keeping true to his roots as a sea kayaker he's done some large scale expeditions including a 7 month sea kayak trip from Brazil to Florida. His whitewater has stayed more locally to BC and the Pacific Northwest.
Outside of his personal kayaking Russell works as a paramedic for the BC Ambulance Service, a ski patroller, an outdoor educator, and a sea kayak guide. For pleasure he backcountry skis, mountain bikes, moves in the mountains, and snuggles with his cat Jaromir Jagr.
His passion for teaching people to enjoy and discover themselves in the outdoors is the basis for why he is on this team.
Michelle Fortier - Instructor
Growing up in the desert, Michelle started kayaking in her early 20s as a way to find some water! Fast forward to the present and she spends most of her time in or around rivers for work and pleasure.
While she should have been studying, Michelle spent most of undergrad kayaking around Vancouver island during the winter and working as a raft guide and kayak instructor in Chilliwack BC over the summer. She’s since done paddling trips to Chile, Ecuador, and throughout the US before settling in Squamish where she works in salmon research.
Learning to paddle, Michelle had a strong group of women surrounding her and recognized the importance of gender representation on the water. She loves to see and help more women grow and thrive within the sport, finding finesse and making it their own. You can often find her at the end of a big day of kayaking throwing on a sun dress and grabbing her mini guitar.
Thea Froehlich - Instructor
Thea accidentally became a kayaker at the age of 11 when she attended a summer camp in her home town of Ottawa, Ontario. Despite her crippling fear of putting her face in the water that caused her to fail both the first level of swimming lessons (Bubbles 1) and the first level of kayaking camp (ripple), she was quickly funneled into a competitive slalom kayaking program and eventually represented Canada as a member of the National Team for roughly 10 years.
While training in New Zealand in the winter of 2015, Thea discovered her love for paddling natural rivers and the magical community that accompanies that. Eventually shifting her focus to creeking and river running, Thea is proud to have paddled hundreds with hundreds of people all over the world. Thea spends most of her free time trying to figure out where she is, do to her terrible sense of direction. She also likes to whittle spoons and look at pictures of her dog, Lula.