Bunny Johns | USA

Year Inducted: 2017
Years Active: 1959-2015
Home Base: USA

Advocate Accomplishments:

Bunny was an instructor and trainer (1976-2000), American Canoe Association (ACA) Training Committee Chair (1979-1981), and Department Head, Vice President and President of Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) from 1976 to 2000.  The NOC’s whitewater paddling school developed of one of the largest US cadre of elite instructors during this timeframe whose influence accelerated students learning and safety as whitewater kayaking surged in popularity.

Bunny’s leadership in the development, refinement and dissemination of instructor certification and whitewater rescue best practices shaped the de facto standard in whitewater canoe and kayak paddling instruction adopted by the American Canoe Association (ACA) in the early 1980s, whose standards became widely adopted. She was the leader of the world’s first open source code written specifically for elite whitewater kayak instruction; supported the first-ever adaptive kayak instruction program for paraplegics and amputees at the NOC. Under Bunny’s tutelage and leadership, the extraordinary NOC white water kayak and canoe instructors developed different strokes and improved rolling techniques. Bunny empowered and encouraged instructors to really dissect the physics of white water flow, stroke placement and boat position. Bunny Johns empowered and achieved fundamental breakthroughs from her instruction team, including herself as lead instructor trainer, always focused on constant improvement in 3 areas:

  1. What is the most effective way to teach this?
  2. Can we break it down and make it understandable?
  3. How can we do this better? How can we do it safer? Bunny Johns talking about these important questions in interviews with Kent Ford – IWHOF Advocate Inductee of 2008:  https://vimeo.com/220378271

Other Accomplishments:

First Descents:

  • 1964: Chattooga River, Section 4 – Tandem Canoe with Al Barrett
  • Late ‘60s: West Fork of the Tuckaseegee – Whitewater Kayak
  • 1995: First descent of the Grand Canyon – Tandem Canoe with Janet Smith

Racing Accomplishments

  • 1975: Gold Medal – Open Boat Nationals – OC2W with Jean Brackett
  • 1976: Gold Medals (3) -Open Boat Nationals – C1W, C2W Slalom and C2Mixed Downriver
  • 1978: Gold Medal -Open Boat Nationals: OC2W with Carrie Ashton (5 seconds off OC2 Men’s gold)
  • 1979: Gold Medal- Wildwater Nationals – C2Mixed with Mike Hipsher
  • 1981: Gold Medal-Wildwater Nationals – C2Mixed with Mike Hipsher
  • 1981: Gold Medal – World Wildwater Championships, C2Mixed with Mike Hipsher. Their time beat all US Men’s Teams and ranked 13th among all C2Men times. “This victory perhaps is our greatest single achievement in American Canoeing. Bunny and Mike anchored the men’s team relay and brought them into 4th place and finished the year undefeated, besting all US C2 Men competitors.
  • 1982: Gold Medal Open Canoe Nationals – OC2 Mixed Masters with Payson Kennedy