The Value of a Logbook- A Decade Later

On a recent visit home, my Mom asked me to go through an old box of stuff. I found myself rummaging through boxes of old report cards, pieces of art from grade school and the occasional trophy. I tossed a few old photos into my bag along with a tiny red notebook and told my parents they could toss the rest if they wanted.

The little red notebook was my first “logbook” and detailed my first real introduction to Whitewater paddling.

Level Six Water Sports Log Book first white water trip

During high school, I had worked at a summer camp as a lifeguard and flatwater canoe instructor. As part of our leadership training, we went on a 16-day canoe trip on the Dumoine River in Western Quebec, Canada. The trip was a combination of team bonding and leadership training along with covering some wilderness skills.

Level Six Paddle Sports Apparel, gear and accessories

Each member of our group was given a notebook to use as a logbook. I use the term logbook loosely as even though I had glued in maps and meal plans, it was more of a personal journal for the trip. Unlike my logbooks today, there were no quick sketches of the rapids, no daily weather conditions or even noting the time spent on the water.

But there was occasionally a brief description of a noteworthy event. These sections included a paragraph on how we got our canoe stuck on a rock only to have our senior leader paddle up to first take a photo, then proceed to help us. As well as telling how we collapsed our friend's tents in the middle of the night while they slept, or how we walked right into a tree carrying our canoe during a portage.

It was interesting flipping through the old book and noticing the exact day in which I ran my first rapid.

At the time I never thought I’d do anything like that ever again as I was a flatwater paddler- Whitewater was too extreme for me at the time. But several years after that trip I found myself paddling Whitewater again and now I spend most of my days off in my kayak.

I had gone on the trip a decade ago and forgotten most of it, but the logbook brought everything back. I'm very grateful that my parents put the logbook in the box of things to keep when I went off to University. Plus, I now have a great meal plan for the next time I convince my friends to go camping.

White water Canoe Trip Level Six Water Sports

Most guides will keep some form of the logbook to keep track of days on the river and certain incidents should any legal situations arise. But even us recreational paddlers can seek the benefit of tracking our trips-besides a photo can only tell so much of the story.

Let us know if you keep a logbook in the comments below!


Author: Annika Bunkis


  • Sandra L. Newman

    I started paddling June 2019. I paddled as much as possible all summer and fall, even managing to go at least once a month this winter. Realizing I had no idea what all the rivers I have been on, how many trips I’ve been on or all the people that accompanied me, I started keeping a paddling journal this winter. I am writing down the date, the river, the weather conditions and who I am with and any out of the ordinary adventures we experience. I want to remember all this and have something to look back when the day comes that I won’t be able to do this any longer. I turn 54 in March.

  • Graeme

    I kept a fishing log book for many years. Brought back many memories when I rediscovered it. Fishing actually got me into whitewater paddling as the best fishing is in remote spots and the only way to get to remote spots is often via whitewater.

  • Jerry

    I am a college professor in the fields of computer and cyber sciences. I REQUIRE my students to keep logbooks of their daily professional activities as well as create a system for personal reflection diaries (logbooks). It works! I show my previous activities as long-ago as 60 years to serve as motivational tools to demonstrate paths for success in life.

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