Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Decked Canoes, Open Canoes, as long as they're canoes!

Moderators: TheKrikkitWars, Mike W., Sir Adam, KNeal, PAC, adamin, kenneth, sbroam

User avatar
hazardharry
CBoats Addict
Posts: 565
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:57 am
Location: the great state of maine

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by hazardharry »

True, lots of clubs offer instruction. But "club boating" may be unattractive to many of the rugged individualists that are likely to find running WW in canoes interesting. As the old joke goes these people wouldn't respect a club that would have them as a member.
guilty of above. i'll give the club in northern new england named after an eastern mountain chain credit for staring me on the way to WW. but they hold back confident paddlers that need the challenge. the class was only as strong as the wosrt and weakest paddlers. on the second day i dropped out and hooked up with some open boaters running III/V from not even being able to sit still in that banana boat to some wicked WW. it was a waste 150$ for me. maybe if the club brought in pros they would have more respect. someone should start an outfitting school for all the very poorly outfitted boats i see. loose gear, long ropes, screws sticking out the gunnels and now wearing backpacks over the pfd? WTF? :o they have me rated as a classII paddler....
Attachments
harry in ahole.jpg
harytooth.jpg
if its a flowin' i'm a goin' if its frozen i'm a dozin'
User avatar
Pea Pod
C Guru
Posts: 191
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:43 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by Pea Pod »

After several years of being self-taught or mate-taught, which incorporated books & videos, I got some instruction, and took my canoeing to the next level. Before that, I was cheap(-ish) and not a club type.

I had a ball with professional instruction:
- I learnt to see a whole lot more detail when I read rivers, under the good eye of an experienced instructor. Makes me a safer paddler, and able to understand why I couldn't paddle lines I thought I could, and allows me to attempt lines near scary features that I would have portaged around.
- I also learnt a new ethos that was more adventurous (but appropriately cautious) than my confidence previously allowed. My ego is better calibrated to my ability and the river features.
- I learnt to paddle more efficiently (ferrying, attainment, punching eddies, forward stroke, driving from the front, etc). Now, I have more FUN cause canoeing is easier than before.

A big thanks to Paul Mason. Paul designed a course and modified each day around my needs, ability, and temperament. Plus, I didn't appreciate that paddlers are still working out how to paddle, especially short boats. New techniques are being discovered, refined, and broken down to their elements for instructional purposes by Paul and his colleagues, on a weekly basis. (I'm sure there are others doing likewise in other parts of the planet.) Before spending a week with him, I thought that instructors were handing down age-old wisdoms. No! These guys are cutting-edge scientists at the coal face of knowledge, learning from experimentation and theory, whilst having a lot fun doing so. They are the guinea pigs!

Plus a course at MKC is a great way to improve your paddling, hang out with some other "individualists" (hey, we all need company every now and then), and paddle in great locations with top food. Plus, the cultural events at Wilnot Tavern are unforgettable.
milkman
C Maven
Posts: 1104
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 9:13 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by milkman »

Looks to me like this tread has covered most of the "why not" pretty well. One other possibility is the lack of readily available instruction. If people cannot easily find instruction when and where they want it then interest is lost and forgotten. Only the most serious will pursue it further.
When you get serious, think about teaming up with several other open boaters to hire someone like Eli Helbert to come to you (see http://www.thecanoeguru.com/reservation ... rus-rates/). There are probably some other leading instructors willing to travel if you can get enough paddlers to sign up.
User avatar
Smurfwarrior
C Maven
Posts: 1488
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:09 am
Location: Utah

Re: Bobbing

Post by Smurfwarrior »

Einar wrote: Of course Smurfs unpaid comment on my roll was worth it too.
Sometimes all it takes is someone looking at a little problem from a slightly different perspective. It was great boating with you again this year Einar, hope to see you in Sept.

To my knowledge, there are only two ACA certified ww canoe instructors in my parts, and both are class 1-2 boaters, at best. As a professional firearms/tactical instructor, I see the ACA instructor certification process as a joke and have local ACA kayak instructors that can't hardly toss a throw rope properly, let alone manage to offer valuable lessons to beginners. Its not par for the course I believe, but it gives me a bad taste in my mouth to see instructors churned out with very little skill or ability running around these parts trying to collect money for what they are offering. That said, guys like Eli are far and few between, and I'd jump on an opportunity to take instruction from him.

To address the initial question about why more people don't get instruction, I think it has something to do with how we initially get into open boating. Which is IMHO based on having either been a kayaker in the past then switching over or having a friend introduce and then teach them to open boat. With kayaking being a more 'off the shelf' , 'more widely known' type sport, beginners are easy to get into classes as they are starting from scratch and they know it. I think Open boaters tend to not start from scratch and therefore fail to recognize the areas where they could use some improvement.
Einar
CBoats Addict
Posts: 398
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:02 pm
Location: British Columbia

The Elephant in our room..

Post by Einar »

The unmentioned Elephant in our room is the "instructional" Internet, C boat itself being one of that herd.

You can get a lot of free feedback or low priced packaged instruction off the Net. You can even submit
quality error porn- "what's wrong with my roll ?"
Great stuff, even comes with multiple conflicting points of view; pick the one that seems to work for you.

Is this killing one on one instruction or at least devaluing it?
Most or all of the personal instruction we are discussing has a price below which it isn't worth it for an
instructor to get out of bed and... that price is now competing with Net's free.

Sweet Skills short video is a case in point, Esprit's River Rescue module make a longer detailed example.

Not arguing for or against, in fact in favour of both, just saying, they are competing for space in a small market.
Paddling is easy, organizing shuttles is hard.
Not misplacing all your crap in somebody else's car seems to be even harder
User avatar
Pea Pod
C Guru
Posts: 191
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:43 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by Pea Pod »

Yeah, the net works nicely for instruction (either crowd-sourced critique or expert produced material). While I use it often, nothing beats a live, competent instructor. However, I generally have to settle with paddling with kayakers, using the net/books/videos, and remembering the pearls of wisdom from the rare tuitions I've had.
User avatar
mahyongg
C Guru
Posts: 237
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:47 pm

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by mahyongg »

Nothing pushed my paddling forward as fast as paid instruction so far. The right approach to it is vital - i.e. for me, an understanding of the underlying physics and physical aspects - others may thrive on different approaches. So far I can say, I have found the right coach(es). My current state of instruction is that after I learned to roll I now have to go paddling a lot and then come back for some fine-tuning.

I am thankful for every Dollar (or EURO) I spent on coaching. Paddling IS costly - most of it paid in time, and travelling expenses, which make it no cheaper than most other sports. Equipment needs notwithstanding. I can do with my snowboard from 1996 still and when I do, I walk up the hill, it's more rewarding anyhow. If canoes wouldn't be so damned heavy and big.. but that's another story.

Coaching can get you where you want to go, faster and cheaper than if you go yourself, or with an abundance of differing incoherent advice from buddies or the net. That advice is out there alright - but it's also out there all wrong. Sticking to one knowledgeable person - if you have one around - for advice is another option that would help you kick-start your career - but not all good players make good trainers, coaching requires a whole nother skill set and the ability to observe AND understand how to put in words and images what's happening. I believe that the amount of time spent gaining these really, really justifies the money paid for instruction nowadays - and I am always amazed as to how little you actually have to pay for instruction, compared to other things. So yeah, I've found it very valuable.. and recommend it to anybody, especially those who paddle for a long time already and consider themselves good - or even great - paddlers already. Usually, looking at their styles, I (with my untrained eye.. as a non-instructor) find areas that would improve with a little adjustment.

Thanks to Heinz (http://www.open-canoe.de" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;) (and Eli, for a day clinic of boofing and rockspinning down Cittico Creek) for all I am now and all I'll be doing on WW in the future.

Cheers,

Jan

Jan
User avatar
PAC
CBoats.net Staff
Posts: 3311
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 1:07 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by PAC »

A few thoughts….

One teaching others teaches one’s self. Trying to figure out and breakdown how to instruct another so that they understand a process gets one to step back and revisit how the mechanics actually work. It’s also a good way to give back. Just don’t think too highly of yourself that you can’t learn from your students too. No matter how good you are … you’re really not THAT good!  Just some are much better than others!  Just keep it simple and don’t overload folks with tech talk or too much info. Always remember everyone learns differently too! Praise when warranted explain when there is something to improve upon.

Go run gates. Nothing beats bad form out of you like running gates. They force you to make class III-IV (or higher depending on the course and how aggressive you are) with class I-II consequences. Just hanging out listening to K and C clinics can provide new tricks. Watching hard core stick chasers can provide a lot of insight as well as to tech.

Having another provide feedback is always a bonus. Newbies asking questions can force you to think and re-think! BUT You have to make it so that they feel comfortable to ask! Kayakers can help on your tech since most understand how to read water and ask the darn’st questions sometimes as to why you are doing something – when you shouldn’t.

Watching yourself on video (oh the shame…. ) can be eye opening and provide a frame of reference to where you need to be.

Having a good instructor is worth more than its weight in gold… having a bad one can be... frustrating. You don’t always get what you pay for but sometimes you get more than that.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone… yes you are going to get a beat down now and again (just try to keep it civil), or maybe just shamed but nothing ventured nothing gained.
Finally - nothing beats stick time! Practice what you teach / are taught!

Oh and don’t forget to smile and don’t listen to me… I haven’t a clue!!!
Paul C.
Cboats Moderator
Official TOG Member (Team Old Guy)!
User avatar
FullGnarlzOC
C Maven
Posts: 1329
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:31 am
Location: York, PA

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by FullGnarlzOC »

Good topic Adam.

In my opinion, there's something to be said about learning by trial through fire. When I started 5 yrs ago, it was through the club. I never took any of the clubs courses, but made very sure to pick up what I could whenever it was offered to me. Because of some key canoeist in the club, I had a foundation of fundamentals to get started with.

It didn't take long before I felt as though almost any course that teaches surfs, ferries, peel-outs, and rolls... wouldn't exactly further help, a whole lot, as much as just getting more experience would help. Those skills were all there, just not technique... and technique in my opinion can be learned from a) thinking about efficiency as you stroke and b) by simply seeing a video online somewhere.

At that point the skills I was picking up on, were more than is what is usually taught in a 1-3 day clinic. Things like...

1) understanding how your boat is going to react to specific types of water features at different given speeds, angles, and thrust through

2) understanding what you yourself are capable of - mentally and physically. "Can I make that scary ferry...?" What's holding me back? Power? Skill? or my brain?


I think a lot of 'wanting to be taught' is age dependent. Younger paddlers have more tenacity to get out there and get their butts whooped to learn something that could be taught in 5 mins. But here's the difference - If you learn something on the river in an intensified situation - It is much more likely to become instinctual, which should be the end goal of all our skills - not only to be technically proficient, but for everything to be instinctual as well.
http://www.gnarlzoutdoors.com
Silverbirch Canoes - North American Distributor
Email: tom@gnarlzoutdoors.com
User avatar
mahyongg
C Guru
Posts: 237
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:47 pm

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by mahyongg »

What I recently learned to give as a piece of advice to anyone asking themselves if they can proceed to harder WW.. is this. Also valuable if you like to judge wether you have a complete skill set and boat control or not.

Well.. here goes:

If you can hold your angle (Ferry, coming out of an eddy) anywhere, on both on- and offsite, on one class of WW, you can proceed to the next.

Not saying that this holds true for everything and everyone, and it DOES pertain to a certain approach of "control" not the "you don't have to be good, you just have to be hard" philosophy, but it sums up a big deal of abilities pretty good.

Also.. just because you DO get everywhere you want to go on a river, doesn't mean you're doing it efficiently or in a way that prevents injury over the long term. Also, while watching stick chasers can help you improve, note that these people have the clock to race against, for a very brief period of time. And while their precision and arsenal of techniques is really, really helpful on the river, not all of these (strokes, application of power etc.) need apply for a group of recreational boaters that have to be able to get through a whole day of paddling without daily training intervals etc. pp. So.. be cautious and especially, -understand- why they're doing what (and what that means for your paddling) if you dare go the way of overloading yourself.

Tommy.. while you are one of those guys who can do a lot of things, and have lots of good instincts and river experience, I'd still be interested what difference someone working with you could make. I do agree with what you're saying - everyone should definitely work on their own. That also explains why I like my coaches' style of teaching - he doesn't just tell you "hold your hand so-andso- and it works" or the like, but he teaches you the underlying principles, which in turn make it easier for you to judge your own wrongdoings, learn quicker and correct yourself - and build on that.

The problem I see why your approach is not for everyone is that a lot of things done wrong do still work to a degree, reinforcing them through success - and then fail when you ned them the most, or get you hurt, or exhausted, which might still get you hurt. Unlearning that is more work than starting right in the first place. Not everyone has the time and tenacity to wait - or likes getting their asses whooped because of "skipping class".

And then, some people learn something on a river that's over their heads that becomes instinctual right away.. and never go paddling again. While that may be good for them and us, there's no guarantee it has to be...

That said, I'm thinking about taking instructor courses just to learn to paddle better. Or should I just spend the money and paddle more? Now THAT is a hard question to answer!! :D

Cheers!

Jan
milkman
C Maven
Posts: 1104
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 9:13 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by milkman »

If you learn something on the river in an intensified situation - It is much more likely to become instinctual, which should be the end goal of all our skills - not only to be technically proficient, but for everything to be instinctual as well.
Tommy makes a good point here. I have known people who mostly take courses and then rarely paddle. A lot of whitewater canoeing it seems to me is forging a connection between you, the boat, and what's happening with the water that requires hours and hours of time on the water simply experiencing, experimenting, reacting and improving those reactions. Some of this you learn by thinking about it, some of this is simply learned intuitively and become muscle knowledge. Take bracing for example. You can learn that but actually applying it in a situation fast enough that it works comes from lots of experience and it becoming intuitive. You can't think, then brace--there isn't time. So yes, take the courses, but then paddle a ton if you want to get better.
User avatar
FullGnarlzOC
C Maven
Posts: 1329
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:31 am
Location: York, PA

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by FullGnarlzOC »

Jan - Well that's just it - the school of hard knocks isn't for everyone, but I do think there should be a certain amount of stock placed in it. In my opinion, its just as viable as an option to become a solid paddler, as taking instruction and slowly developing skill with a more cautious approach.

It's hard for me to full comment on what can be learned and retained by instruction, because I haven't taken a class, let alone from someone with total skills, like Eli.

But I do know this - it took me about 4 years before I came to the firm belief that I wouldn't be learning anything new/get any better w/ any kind of formal instruction (i could be wrong, but i doubt it).

If someone approached me and said, "Tommy I want to be a class V shitrunner in a canoe, what is the best way to do that"... I'd tell them to start running the large steaming pile of dog doo, and learn from your mistakes.

If someone said "I want to paddle class II-IV comfortably, with minimal issues..." I'd tell them to seek out Eli - learn from the best if you go that route.
http://www.gnarlzoutdoors.com
Silverbirch Canoes - North American Distributor
Email: tom@gnarlzoutdoors.com
ian123
CBoats Addict
Posts: 573
Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:16 am
Location: Guelph, Canada

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by ian123 »

The most important thing is time in your boat but there's room for both hard knocks and formal instruction. There isn't much in the way of class 4/5 in my area so nutting up and running the large steaming pile of dog doo isn't really a viable way of learning. In this case, a good instructor could help... unfortunately there aren't many of those either.

The internet can be a frustrating way to learn. Those who are most keen "help" aren't often the best people to do so.
...
User avatar
yarnellboat
C Maven
Posts: 1330
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:54 pm
Location: Winnipeg
Contact:

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by yarnellboat »

I don't think there's a universal answer to this, it's very different by region - depending on instructors, and on rivers (esp. water temp!). A universal nugget is probably that the best thing is a combo - some instruction followed up with lots of time on the river.

Out West we have few to no instructors, other than clubs that do limited class II intro courses, & possibly have a culture/mentality that would hold some back. I'd love to pay for good instruction! But it's very infrequent that an organizer steps up to coordinate having a travelling expert come by for Class III+ courses. As Milkman said, that's about our only option.

I could find a competent tennis instructor/program at the local community centre, can't do that for ww canoeing! Big difference.

Due to some combination of my tripping background, my club background, my age, my family, my lack of time, or my basic human make-up as a suck, the school of hard knocks in class IV is not for me, and I think probably only appeals to a small minority and for a limited window of time. But around here (no instructors) it seems to be the only way to really advance quickly, and it requires more time on the river than most people have, as well as some serious stones, because our steep, icy-cold rivers can be an unfriendly learning ground for the gung-ho self-taught.

Being from the same region as Einar, I share his thoughts on plateaus - there's a major plateau for many paddlers who get introduced, gear up, but then never get over the hump to class III play - I wish we had more instruction focussed on getting people over that class II-III club-level hump; and then another plateau for class III-IV dabblers who get good, but not crazy-good - I'm less concerned about that hump, because those folks are committed and have the independence to advance if they want, it's more about where they fit it with life's other priorities and how much time & money they can put to it.

Anyway, I would certainly pay for instruction if I had the opportunity. Instead, I have to rely on 3rd- party transfer - maybe Smurf told something to Einar that Einar can teach me?! On the other hand, lack of instruction is nowhere near my biggest problem with paddling - that would be time! I'm actually not looking to learn anything new or improve anything, I just want to paddle a bit to slow the loss of whatever abilities I have/had.

If there are any Eli-like instuctors following this thread, please consider a tour of advanced clinics in BC, WA, OR!!

Pat.
Last edited by yarnellboat on Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
truckeeboater
CBoats Addict
Posts: 279
Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:40 am
Location: Plymouth, NH

Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by truckeeboater »

sooo, based on the number of western boaters who are keen to pay (within reason) for quality instruction with the common goal of breaking through the class III-IV glass ceiling, are we leaning toward hiring one of these quality instructors (Jim, Eli, etc.) to come out our way for a multi-day clinic? :wink:

If so, I am TOTALLY up for it! 8)
Peace Pow and Paddling!
Post Reply