Surfing on the Cedar

By Thomas Nelson,

Hannah Ray Childs grew up as a farm kid, and started kayaking to go with her brother to good fishing spots.

“Eventually we quit that fishing stuff and just paddled,” Childs said.

She saw some people in whitewater boats and she’s been hooked ever since.

“I want to do that,” Childs said. She started kayaking in whitewater kayaks in 2008.

“I learned to roll in August of 2008. I’ve been practicing it,” Child said. She’s quickly learned a lot of tricks in her kayak.

“Learn more and keep going,” Childs said. “You learn a lot and then you plateau, and with more effort you keep going.”

She’s been practicing since before the Charles City whitewater course, Childs said.

Childs has been attempting a trick called the round house for a little bit now.

“You move your body and bounce out of the air and do a 180 and land backwards and keep surfing,” Childs said. “I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

Ty Graham, one of the people responsible for the Charles City whitewater course, taught Childs to how to roll, she said.

“He would keep me informed,” Childs said. “It’s awesome to have Charles City.”

Childs works with Charles City Chamber of Commerce Tourism Coordinator Ginger Williams on the Whitewater Weekend that happens in June and helps plan the prizes and events with her.

“It’s fun to help with that so we can try to make it fun for everybody,” Childs said.

Childs hails from Cedar Rapids and works at her day job as a full-time graphic designer.

“I work in an office all day,” Childs said. “In the evenings and on the weeks, I’m completely free to do whatever I want to do.”

The creativity that goes in the Childs’ day job helps her out when she’s kayaking, she said.

“Trying to visualize and learn tricks,” Childs said. “It’s kind of fun to goof around with your friends.”

She’ll practice her tricks in her chair at work.

Of the three whitewater courses in Iowa, Charles City is Childs’ favorite, although she said she loves kayaking anywhere, anytime, as long as the water is high enough and isn’t iced over.

“There’s no end to our season, just slower times,” Childs said. “If we get one big rain storm we can go again.”

Childs has several sponsors that help her out.

“I get to be a team athlete for Jackson Kayak, and I’m also on the team for Werner Paddle and the team for Badfish SUP (stand up paddleboard),” among other groups, Childs said.

Childs always encourages anyone to watch or join her and others on the river.

“I’ll probably be doing a couple meet-up and a couple clinics,” Childs said. “I got extra gear.”