Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Developing Our Skills with Paddle Canada (Part 1)

Flashback to our first time in a kayak - September 2011. Notice the upside down paddle ... we need skills huh? :-) LOL

Neither Robyn or I could have imagined when we started kayaking where our skills development would be after 3 years. Like most paddlers in our area we started out by taking a Paddle Canada Introduction to Sea Kayaking course to learn a little bit how to use our equipment and how to get out of the kayak if we ended upside down.

Since then, our garage has been constantly evolving with kayak gear upgrades and we have spent a lot of time "in" the water as we upgraded our skills certifications through Paddle Canada. This past year especially our focus has been to  reach our personal goals which we were both able to do in April.

Sea Kayak Instructor Level 1 - April 16th-19th

Working with Robyn (and others) through her skills development over the past year, I realized that becoming an instructor was one of my goals that I wanted to accomplish so I signed up for an Instructor Level 1 course with Blue Dog Kayaking (Dave Nichols) / Horizons Adventures (Rick Wise) at the Mill Bay Marina.

Rick Wise in the blue kayak with Dave Nichols in the yellow and black kayak. A couple of great instructors!

I have taken courses with Dave in the past and have really enjoyed his teaching style and he recently established Blue Dog Kayaking at the marina. Rick came all the way from Ontario to put on this course and be a mentor for Dave who also is working towards his Paddle Canada Level 1 Instructor Trainer certification.

What a great classroom setting at the Mill Bay Bistro

My fellow group of students consisted of Jay Raichura who owns Pender Island Kayak Adventures, Jesse Pictou who is a guide at Tofino Sea Kayaking Company, Rick Powley and Rob Wyness both fellow Nanaimo Paddlers and Ryan Aldred who will be working at Blue Dog Kayaking this summer.

The morning sessions consisted of lectures that were presented by our instructors as well as lectures that we students had prepared before the course and a few that we had to talk about on the fly so to speak. After lunch we headed onto the water to demonstrate our paddling skills which included Level 2 or better paddle strokes and both self and assisted rescues. It was during the afternoon sessions that we started to refine our teaching styles using the acronym I.D.E.A.S. which stands for Introduction of the skill being taught, Demonstration of how the skill should be done, Explanation of how the skill is done, Activity by the students and Summary of the skill that was just taught and performed by the student.

Before the course began we all chose paddle stroke lesson plans that we had to develop as well as lectures. I decided that I wanted to teach the forward paddle stroke and my lecture would be about trip planning. At the start of the course we also were given other paddle stroke or rescues lessons as well as lectures to prepare for homework in the evenings. Our day wasn't completed until we adjourned to Dave's place for dinner and also reviewed our paddle strokes which were videoed during day. I think we were all humbled to see some of the errors that needed to be "tweaked" during the assessment portion of the course.

It was interesting to observe what each of us brought to the course in terms of the hard and soft skills. From my perspective there was quite a diversity but the thing that I really noticed was how Jesse and Jay were very relaxed in communicating their lessons or lectures. I suspected that it was because of their "guiding" background. While the rest of us said too many words, too fast (LOL), Jesse and Jay seemed in their element "working" the audience.

Our students are welcomed to their one day simulated Level 1 course.

For the last day of the course Dave arranged to have actual students join us so that we could teach an abbreviated one day Level 1 course to them. Some of the students (such as Robyn and Kevin and Cindy Searle) have a few years of kayaking experience but there were a few who arrived who had never even been in a kayak before. Sharply at 9:00am, the instructor candidate group put the course plan (which we developed the evening before) into action starting with introductions followed by the course outlineand a couple of short lectures on weather and seamanship. We then made our way down to the beach to discuss the equipment features of the kayaks, paddles and safety gear before heading onto the water.

Getting to know the gear on the beach.

Paddle stroke lessons underway with Rick Powley leading the group

The morning on-water session was dedicated to teaching paddle strokes before we moved onto getting our students wet after lunch. For the afternoon session our students were taught wet exits as well as a number of assisted and self rescues. The instructor candidates then had the opportunity to work on the just-in-case rescues such as 'Hand of God' with the students.

Helping student Cindy Searle complete an assisted rescue

Dave's wife Ali joined us for the afternoon session and I had the opportunity to work with her one-on -one and introduced her to some of the paddle strokes that we taught in the morning session. It wasn't long before she was completing 360 turns using a combination of forward and reverse sweeps. We even completed a couple of assisted rescues together to finish off the day. I think this was one of my highlights of the course, to be able to work with Ali and have her accomplish so much in such a short time.

Our group of instructors, instructor candidates and students then finished the day off with dinner at the Mill Bay Bistro before heading home. Rick and Dave met with the rest of the class on Monday morning while I had to be back at work due to customer delivery commitments that I was required for.

The end of a great course. Dinner at the Mill Bay Bistro

After a fantastic 4 days of instruction by Dave and Rick (thanks guys!) and working with the other instructor hopefuls it was a great sense of relief to find out that I and the rest of our class were rewarded with our Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Instructor Level 1 certifications.

The newest Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 1 Instructors
Left to Right - Ryan Aldred, Rob Wyness, Mark Byrne, Jay Raichura, Rick Powley and Jesse Pictou

No rest for the weary ..... Robyn's Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 3 course began 3 days later and I got to tag along ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Great job Mark!
    Thanks for spending time to write this ��