Wednesday, May 13, 2009

N.O.C. Whitewater Instructors Course.

Bryan Z and I headed to Bryson NC last week. Both of us hoping to receive our level IV cert. We met up in Waukesha and headed south. We arrived half an hour before our first class started. The instructors were Rob Barham and Jason McClure. We were soon to find out that they were the most qualified kayak instructors we had yet to meet. Where to start? The instruction was top notch. I'll list off qualities these two men possess that make them the rockstar teachers that they are. Positive. patient, precise, intuitive, ever watchful, analytical, enthusiastic, unlimited energy, respectful, and both just damn nice guys and fun! Wow! That's alot of praise! I bet you're wondering why I said all that. Lets break it down.
Positive...There was never a negative moment with these two during the whole week. With it raining cats and dogs most of the time they kept the atmosphere upbeat.
Patient... Having taught and helped teach several people I can say this is extremely important when learning a skill like kayaking. They took their time with everything and made sure we all had it before moving on.
Precise... Every move they made was textbook correct and smooth as silk. The skills they taught us were broken down into exact basic moves that were easy to understand and incorporate into our paddling style.
Intuitive... This is experience and being able to predict an outcome before it happens..."swim". Their teaching style circumvents many possible swims by first teaching the students how to help them in a flip situation and then by placing themselves in the optimal position to intervene.
Ever watchful...Yeah, they knew what was going on every moment out there. Bryan wondered if Rob had eyes in the back of his head.
Analytical... When something didn't work they were able to explain why it didn't in an easy going way.
Enthusiastic... Always! Learning was super fun this week! I absorbed a mountain of information this week and I'm sure Bryan did too.
Unlimited energy... Where did they get it?
Respectful... Absolutely!
When you combine this with the teaching style they presented it was a dynamic combination. They taught us ways to control the fear levels of our students. How to smoothly layer lessons to build skills into complex skills. Killer games to play on and off water with our students. Bottom line is their style makes learning easy and fun for the students and easier for the instructors. I came away with great tools for teaching and am excited to try them out for CanoeU this coming weekend.
The week spent at NOC with Bryan was great! I'm glad he talked me into going down there for my cert. We had two other women in our group who were great paddlers and are going to make impressive teachers. The young men we paddled with in our group were golden! Great guys and awsome paddlers. After nine hours of instruction each day we retired each night for dinner and a beer and talked. Bryan and I stayed at the Smokey Mountain Meadows Campground. The owner is an absolute sweetheart and the place itself was clean and very well kept, tucked in a beautiful valley. With the torrential rains all week she let us move our tents under the pavilion which made for a very pleasant week. Funniest joke of the week. "What do you call a raft guide without a girlfriend?" "Homeless" Sorry to my raft guide friends but I laughed. The funniest moment was during the swiftwater rescue afternoon. I fed a couple of ducks from my lunch. After lunch we had rope throwing...the ducks followed us and were hanging out next to us. Then we moved up river to do flips and swims and the ducks followed us up river and hung out with us on the rocks. Then came swimming the river. Three swims where we ended up above Big Wessor...we were all laughing in the eddy when I saw the ducks had swam down with us and were still hanging out with us. Funny! Bryan and I both passed our level IV whitewater instructor certifications. We took the scenic route home passed the Occoe and Telico rivers but the timing was wrong for paddling. The Telico is one river I really have to get back and beautiful!

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