Monday, August 2, 2010

Leaders in Training

In the very large city of Los Angeles there are precious few kayakers and a lack of a robust kayak community. When I was living there years ago a group of us formed a Yahoo! group called Bruinwhitewater (most of us were affiliated with UCLA at the time). It was never a formal club but just a way to try to get together with other paddlers. We would run beginner trips every year to try to increase the number of local kayakers with the more experienced paddlers helping to train the newbies. These trips were quite popular and successful and over the years the 'group' has grown and has turned a little more formal as the Los Angeles Kayak Club. No longer an Angelino I still feel I have a vested interest in helping the club grow and I was happy they invited down south to help run a leader training course to get more of the members up to speed on how to train new paddlers and help guide them safely down the river. I drove down to the Kern straight from a week teaching on the Trinity - 12 hours later got me into camp at 4am and ready to go by 9am.

The club has some very experienced paddlers and skilled instructors (they are the people who trained me when I started) but they wanted me to bring in my perspective as a working instructor and ACA Instructor Trainer. So we set up a weekend to train six new leaders - people who knew how to paddle but needed to learn how to look after beginners on the water. We started with a review of basic rescue techniques and common teaching methods so everyone would be on the same page. And then the fun began with lots of scenarios, planned and unplanned swims and good debriefs to consolidate the lessons learned. It was a lot of fun and I think the club has a bright future with several new leaders set to introduce a whole new batch of beginners to the sport. Maybe, just maybe, Los Angeles will turn into a boater town yet.

After teaching eleven days in a row I have earned a little vacation and will be kayak sailing the Channel Islands for the next week. Pics and trip report upon my return...

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