Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation.......

Hey everyone, its been a while since I posted, so I figured I'd post an upate as to what ive been up to.

A big part of my paddling career has been spent instructing others. Its probably the thing that makes me proudest of anything I've accomplished in paddling....having had a chance to expose others to the sport of kayaking. I've spent every summer since I was 17 years old teaching kids how to kayak at summer camps. It makes me happy to see the smile on a kid's face the first time he or she gets their first roll, surfs their first wave, or runs their first class III rapid.

Last year I started coaching some local kids in Columbia, SC. These guys and girls are really taking it to the next level, progressing quickly and learing a respect for the river, the environment, and themselves. They are already tearing up the competition scene, winning several medals at surf kayaking events this spring, and poised to try out for the US Surf Kayak team this fall. Its been great to see them do so well (although it irritates me when I teach them a trick and they can immediately do it....and usually do it better than I can!) You can see some of my kids in Enter the Donkey.

The camp I work at in the summer has had a long history of using Riot kayaks in their instructional fleet, and this year we picked up 4 Turbo 47's. Finding boats that fit smaller kids has long been a problem, albeit one that is getting better now that companies are realizing the need for boats that fit smaller paddlers. We had great success with these little Turbos this summer, and the kids loved paddling them. They fit a small paddler very well, and the outfitting is easy to adjust for specific needs. Our kids this summer had a blast in the Turbos, enjoying the fact that they can control these smaller kayaks easily. The Turbo series is known for it's surfing prowess, and these kids were grinning ear to ear as they surfed their first waves this summer. So if you are working with an instructional program, I'd highly suggest looking at the Turbo 47 as an option for smaller paddlers. They can be a bit edgy, but I've found the lighter paddlers have no problem keeping the boat upright.
Here's one of my advanced students, enjoying the Turbo 47

The Orbit 47 is also an excellent boat for a bit larger kids, and its tapered side walls make for a very stable and friendly ride. I often paddle the Orbit 47 myself, though admittedly I am at the top end of the weight range. It is a very predictable kayak that can also do any trick in the book.
One of our head instructors Brice teaching a student in an Orbit 47

Riot has such variety in their line, that there is a boat for every instructional need. This summer, my assistant instructors and myself taught out of Sniper's, Magnum's, and the new Thunder. The great thing about teaching out of Riot boats, is that the backband easily pops out to allow excellent access to the rear of the kayak, making packing and using all the first aid kits, rescue equipment, and logistical supplies that every instructor must carry a snap
Here's one of my assistant instructors, Taylor, and myself, on the Pigeon River.

Not every kayaker is cut out to be a kayaking instructor, but I recommend that if you love to kayak, at some point in your paddling life......try teaching someone else. Theres nothing like the feeling of passing on a love for our sport to someone else. Many cities have charity programs that introduce kids (often at-risk kids) to the sport of kayaking. If you have one of these programs in your city, consider contacting them to see if you can help. I guarantee you that seeing one smile on one kid's face with make any time you donate worth every second.

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