Monday, January 28, 2008
As a former school teacher one might think I'd be a natural to teach people kayaking skills. I don't think so! There are a number of reasons why this is so. Firstly, I have no certification to paddle, let alone teach paddling skills. I consider myself a self-taught intermediate paddler who relies more on good risk management abilities than solid paddling skills. If it looks iffy, I stay on the beach!
But what about teaching intermediate skills, things like rescues, basic rolls, safety gear, navigation skills and so on? Again I'm trained like many of you, but not certified. Lots of folks are ACA and/or BCU certified and they don't seem to be in short supply at the various kayaking events I've attended. I'm happy to let them do the job. The ones I've worked with have all been helpful.
Well, what about teaching people how to go on paddling trips? It's true I've done some wilderness paddling and more recently a fair amount of car-top kayaking trips. This area might be one I'd feel comfortable talking about, but here again, most people have their own ideas about how they like to travel by kayak. It isn't really rocket science. You pack what you think you'll need, you travel to the launch site and off you go. Then you learn. There'll be things you forgot at home or don't even own you'll want to bring along next time and other things you find you never used and can't believe you bothered bringing. Your next outing will be trimmer and sleeker.
So you won't find me as a coach at your next paddling event. I'm more likely to be found in the class of splashers and bashers, trying to rescue myself! That said, however, I firmly believe we are all teachers and learners. We all have things to share and learn and it's important to do both. If you're just there only because you're the 'expert' or the 'beginner' you're mistaken. You must always be both. You can never learn it all and you're never too innocent to help someone else!
Photo credit: Val Rice