“Women of Whitewater” Inspires Girls and Women

7-minute read

Amanda Selsky is the author and illustrator of a new high-quality coloring book that celebrates women in whitewater paddling. Raft guides, whitewater kayakers, recreational paddlers and moms who row—all are represented in this fun and inspirational book!

"Women of Whitewater" book cover

This 40-page coloring book is for adventurous girls and women ages 4-104. It connects with women already immersed in the whitewater world and with women with an adventurous spirit and curiosity to see what it’s all about. Brave and creative kids who have just had their first whitewater experience and kids who have yet to try it.

The illustrations show a diverse group of women whitewater enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and from all over the Western Hemisphere.

We recently got on a call with the book’s creator, Amanda Selsky, to find out more about her fun and important project. Here’s our conversation with Amanda:

AQUA BOUND: Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired your whitewater coloring book project.

AMANDA: I grew up in Maryland and hadn’t been exposed to any whitewater until I moved out here to Carbondale, Colorado four years ago. Since living here, I’ve had the opportunity to go rafting on the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado.

I was a teacher here for the past couple of years and one of my favorite activities to do with kids was take them on the river. But there are some great outfitters here that are passionate about getting kids. It’s just been amazing.

One of the teachers who was subbing at our school, Charlotte, is a raft guide (she’s in the book). I got to know her really well through working with her at school and then she was one of the guides on one of our outdoor adventures. Some friends and I did a ladies’ rowing clinic and Charlotte was the lead on that too.

women and students rafting on a river

Amanda (wearing a hat inside the raft) with some of her students; Charlotte guiding their river run

It was through that friendship that I was inspired. You don’t see a lot of women in her position and she’s very passionate about getting more women involved in whitewater. And really, just passionate about supporting people to pursue the things they’re interested in.

Charlotte was really encouraging of my art practice and emphasized the potential to connect my work to the whitewater world and all of the amazing women within it. She thought it would be great if there was something a little more meaningful for people to take away after their rafting experience.

Here was an opportunity to connect with families and girls in a different way. That’s how it started.  

AB: How did you find the women you would highlight in your coloring book?

AMANDA: There’s a great arts organization here called Carbondale Arts that does fellowships for local artists. I applied for their fellowship and received a little bit of funding from them with the coloring book as the main idea. At first I wanted to focus on women locally, and some of my first images were of Charlotte.

But after talking with some people and putting the idea out there, I realized there are interested women all over the country I could highlight. I thought it would be amazing to expand the project and include women from all over and different walks of life.

page from coloring book of woman whitewater kayaking

I included ladies in the guiding realm, but also whitewater enthusiasts and mamas and everyone in between. Many of the women came from friends of friends. There are five or six local women featured and then a lot of them came from social networking.

There’s a really strong network of women who connect, like the Ladies of Whitewater community on Facebook. The group is very supportive no matter what your experience level.

So I posted about the project there and got a big response from people who were interested. It ended up being a lot of different areas of whitewater—rafting, kayaking, SUP. Several of the women are from outside the US too.

internal page of mom and kids SUPing

AB: What do you hope your book will accomplish?

AMANDA: My hope is that wherever you live and whatever your background is, you can see yourself in the women who are illustrated. I hear a lot from rafting guides that it feels male-dominated.

I hope that girls can see themselves in it. I hope women will find their place within it and think, “I can do this too!” I also think it’s important for boys and men. It’s a cool thing for young boys to see all these women in whitewater too. It benefits everyone.

It’s important for kids to have this opportunity and not everyone does outside of school, depending on their life circumstances. I always felt a responsibility as an educator to provide kids with activities like this. Charlotte has said that one of her dreams is to be able to make more scholarships available for kids to experience whitewater.

If we expose them when they’re young, they’ll know it’s something they can do too. Every trip I did with a group of kids on the river I left with a couple kids saying “I want to do this when I get older!” Not every kid feels like that in the classroom. It takes getting outside for some kids to really light up.

interior page of woman SUPing

AB: Where can people find “Women of Whitewater”?

AMANDA: It’s available on my website, AmandaSelsky.com, and also through my Instagram page. It will also be sold through American Whitewater, which is awesome! Then I’m hoping to get it out through more outfitters. I’ve been reaching out and have had some interest.

AB: Any last words for our readers?

AMANDA: It’s a coloring book, yes, but it’s really great for all ages. We sometimes think it’s more for kids—and the illustrations are very kid-friendly. I got some feedback from the women I featured, including their favorite river stories. I put a quote from each on their page from their perspective, so we get to hear their voices too.

Some of the things they had to say were so inspiring. We get to hear their voices too. One of my goals was to let the women shine through the book, so there’s more you can take away. A lot of what the women have to say comes through in their values and how they see the world.

Amanda Selsky

Amanda Selsky, “Women of Whitewater” creator

A big thanks to Amanda for her time with us and for creating this special project that highlights many women in the whitewater world!

All photos and illustrations courtesy of Amanda Selsky.

What paddling questions can our friendly Customer Service team help you with? Contact us here: 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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