Who is Columbia River Kayaking?

Levi Helms

Levi grew up in Wahkiakum County and started kayaking with Columbia River Kayaking in 2005. He has his BCU Three Star Sea Kayak certification. Levi is also a builder and home gardener. He loves to share personal tales of growing up in Skamokawa.

Kyleen Austin

The multi-talented Kyleen Austin has a life-long background in outdoor exploration, and has led Road Scholar programs for Columbia River Kayaking since 2014. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and has completed the British Canoe Union's four-star kayak sea leader training. Kyleen's undergraduate degrees are in Music and English, followed by an MBA from the University of Leicester. She has led a varied life, including marketing software and hardware for IBM, creating more public lands in northern California with the American River Conservancy, and most recently, creating Little Island Creamery on nearby Puget Island. Kyleen is a singer-songwriter with three CDs to her credit. Kyleen became a CRK guide/owner in January 2017.

Asia Robbins

Asia redefines enthusiasm when it comes to kayaking! She joined us in 2016 to train as an assistant guide, take reservations, and run the retail corner on weekends. In January 2017 Asia became one of the five CRK guide/owners. Asia is one of our beloved British Canoeing-certified coaches. Her students keep coming back for more! Who wouldn't? Asia always makes it a fun experience.

Andrew Emlen

Andrew holds a Masters degree in Environmental Education, and has been leading kayaking trips in Skamokawa since Skamokawa Center first opened in 1998. The quintessential renaissance man, Andrew can identify birds by their calls, play cello and most other instruments with strings, recite Lewis and Clark journal entries from memory, and shear the sheep that he raises on his small farm in Skamokawa. Any day on the water with Andrew is an education and an adventure.

A little help from our friends

Connor Emlen-Pettersen

Connor Emlen-Petterson has spent most of his life thus far in the Columbia-Pacific region, and has worked for Columbia River Kayaking as a seasonal interpretive guide for the past three years and counting. He brings to his job an enthusiasm for the history and terrain of his childhood home. An aspiring biologist, he holds an especial interest in its wildlife, and spends his off-seasons pursuing a bachelor of science degree in Olympia, Washington.

Ginni Callahan

Columbia River Kayaking founder, instructor, and guide Ginni Callahan has built a life around her passion for sea kayaking and coaching. Ginni is certified as an Advanced Open Coastal Instructor by the American Canoe Association and Level 4 Coach, 4-star assessor, and 5-star leader by the British Canoe Union. Since 1998 she has taught and guided during summer on the Lower Columbia River and winter in Baja, Mexico.

Ginni is also a wooden boat builder, and a published writer. Very involved in the Northwest paddling community, Ginni has volunteered on the Lower Columbia River Water Trail Committee since its creation and organized the On-Water Instruction at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium for several years. She created and ran the Lower Columbia Kayak Roundup (LoCo) for 5 years.

Lately she has been spending more time in Mexico running Sea Kayak Baja Mexico. She also travels about the globe coaching, paddling, promoting kayak sailing, and sometimes sailing across oceans with her husband Henrick on his sailboat Misty.

Josh Phelps

All around nice guy Josh Phelps grew up in Wahkiakum County and started paddling with us in 2006. He holds a BCU Three Star sea kayak certificate. Josh cares genuinely for people, and graduated from Lower Columbia College's RN program in 2015. Photography is one of his hobbies.

Mark Whitaker

Mark first sat in a kayak in 2004, when he started training to be an assistant guide for Skamokawa Center's Elderhostel programs. Since then, he has earned a BCU Four Star Sea leader certificate and his UKCC Level 2 coaching certificate with a Moderate Water endorsement. Along the way he built three skin on frame kayaks, and carved several greenland paddles and a harpoon.

He organized the on the water instruction for the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium for the last few years it was in existence, and was on the organizing committee for the South Sound Traditional Inuit Kayak Symposium as instructor coordinator for several years. He is also the business manager and financial guy for CRK, LLC.

In past lives, he has been a foreign car mechanic, an antique light fixture renovator and salesman, a portable sawmill operator and a hippie logger. He is an avid photographer, fisherman and hunter, and you can find his blog here.

Mark began teaching wilderness medicine in 2015 for Wilderness Medical Associates, where he discovered that the coach training he'd received through the BCU was surprisingly applicable. Who knew that wilderness medicine was a paddlesport? He is a popular instructor, in high demand across the US, and beginning to teach internationally.

2019, Columbia River Kayaking, LLC