Sunday, November 12, 2006
Team Zero? What's with that?
If you have paddled for any length of time and wanted to improve your skill level, sooner or later you discovered that there is help out there, you're never alone. Help comes from other paddling friends, clubs and so on. Most people reach a level they feel comfortable with and they start avoiding paddling situations which frightens them. Another group of people start reading various paddling media and it soon becomes apparent to them that paddling skill sets have been systematized and organized into ascending levels. The two best known one are the British Canoe Union (BCU) and the American Canoe Association (ACA) ratings and there are others as well in various countries. Both these organizations mentioned have a curriculum of skills and provide instruction which allows you to increase your personal skill set as you work your way through their rating system. Many people enjoy the opportunity and satisfaction of advancing through these levels and rightly so. They become more proficient paddlers as a result. It is important to know however that many very proficient paddlers have no rating credits to their name. How did they get so skilled?
Team Zero is a completely different approach to learning to become a better paddler. It is loosely based on a more traditional concept where the idea of zero includes both nothing yet everything. It is based on the idea that everyone has something of value to offer someone else. We can all be both teachers and students at the same time. With this in mind, any time you go out paddling with others, keep in mind you can learn from them and they can learn from you. Team Zero members don't have to wait for an intructor to come by before they can learn a new roll, or how to tow someone in a swamped boat with a broken paddle and a missing hatch cover. This whole concept is based upon continuous learning, right now, with whoever is nearby, sharing the best set of skills available. It also means our ideas can change as soon as the next better idea shows up.
So, by all means, travel to the next BCU or ACA accreditation event in your area. Such events are definitely worth your time and effort. But keep in mind Team Zero is out there as well, working 24/7 to make you a better paddler. You're not only a student, you are a teacher as well.