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

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

Post by Pierre LaPaddelle »

truckeeboater wrote: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)
Well, yess, so am I (as mentioned in my prev post above.) And I'm willing to be involved in the organization.

But -- common goal: ". . .breaking through the class III - IV ceiling???

I just spent a week of hard travelling between Kelly's WW Park in Idaho, and the WW Parks in Reno/Sparks. Personally, while I'd love a clinic in advanced river-running, MY preference would be a clinic in playboating skills.

Why not both? We've got the horses (and the rivers) in the North-West to host a river-running event. Truckee -- you know anyone in the South-West who might host a playboating event ( :wink: ) ??

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

Post by Pierre LaPaddelle »

Pierre LaPaddelle wrote: ". . .breaking through the class III - IV ceiling??? . . . a clinic in playboating skills??? . . . Why not both?
In fact, I recall this conversation, in this forum, over a year ago, which led to the Birth of WESTFEST.

Why not add an instructional component to the 3rd Annual WESTFEST, which Smurf is, no doubt, already beginning to ponder for next July???

Jump in, Smurf !!! 8)

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

Post by Sir Adam »

I heard a rumor Nationals will be in Montana next year? If so you very well might be able to coordinate a course with Eli out in the NW... assuming he competes out there as usual....
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by yarnellboat »

Maybe somebody in approximately the Portland area should start a MKC-style paddling school? Milkman, can you talk anyone into that??

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

Post by Kelly-Rand »

I didn't read every post so here is my take.

I started serious WW paddling back in the mid 90s in various open boats of decreasing size. I took lessons on the river from my accomplished friend who was very good at teaching me how to read the river and catch eddies. After paddling seven our eight years in an open boat I switched to decked and the learning curve went way up. About 2003 I signed up for a weekend course with Tom Foster on the recommendation of a friend. I learned a number of things in the course but the basic premise, the inside curve, I was already in tune with just based on my own river experience. The other thing I learned in that course was that regular practice was important in maintaining and improving my skill and that flat water practice was just as useful as WW in that regard. I have since improved my technique to a high degree and am confident on most rivers up to class IV.

My opportunities to paddle have diminished in the last five years do to many factors like cost, work and diversification of activities so instead of boating every weekend I now boat every third or so. I've been interested in taking lessons from Andrew West and Co, but unless I have the time to practice the subtilties of what can be learned will be lost.

The other factor in lessons is to paddle harder rivers than I now paddle, but the biggest deterrent to that is my endurance not my skill. At age 60 I have identified the rivers and the style of paddling that satisfies me and I am happy with where I am. The cost benefit ratio is not there for me now to take lessons even though I know I would learn gane even more.
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by milkman »

IMO, to start a paddling school that would appeal to intermediate canoeists (people comfortable up to Class IV), you need someone who not only is nearly flawless in their technique, but someone who is a true teacher and coach. No one here in the Portland area really qualifies for that. Which is why we used to pay Bob Foote to come around. Now that he's retired, it might make sense to import someone else. I've got too much on my plate currently to be the point guy on that effort.
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by esprit »

Although potentially cost prohibitive... we have seen many paddlers up their game during our trips to Mexico/Costa Rica...Especially when we have guest paddlers such as Eli, Marko, James and Dooley down paddling with us.

I think the overall success comes from a variety of conditions mentioned above. Firstly, many people don't always get to paddle 6 days in a row on rivers that get progressively more challenging. That in itself is often enough to people up to the next level (ALF would be another good example of the benefit of lots of paddling over a short period of time).

I think beginner paddlers can learn alot from formalized instruction... but as people progress they require more specific "coaching" rather than pure "start from the beginning" instruction. Paddling with a "PRO" for 6 days gives lots of opportunity for fine tuning, encouragement and inspiration from some of the leaders in our sport.

Socially, there are not many opportunities to spend 6 days paddling with premier paddlers that are also premier people. There are few sports where the most respected are as easy going, approachable , kind and generous as the leaders of whitewater canoeing are.

The additional benefit of not worrying about accommodation, food, shuttles and other logistics lets people focus on their paddling.

Obviously we would love to have more people join us on our international trips and started this unique "value added" guest paddler program... which I believe is a unique way to help paddles improve their paddling without the formality of "lessons".

I am surprised that our guest paddler trips are only moderately attended and that they don't sell out straight away. Obviously there are alot of other factors in the mix... but a holiday in a beautiful place, informal coaching/instruction from some of the industry's best, with the likelihood you will return a better paddler is a great way to "up one's game".

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

Post by sbroam »

Wow - good thread, lots to read. I agree with a lot I've heard - "don't have the time" , "lack of good instructors" , "i'm cheap" (maybe I didn't read that, maybe that was a voice in my head) , "i've figured this much out on my own, why?", etc. I know I could benefit from some coaching as I'm about the only serious single blader in my area / circle. But where I feel the immediate need for some instruction opportunity is with my kids... I've mentioned this to Eli, but I need to make a real commitment to finding a time for it...
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by Smurfwarrior »

Pierre LaPaddelle wrote:
Pierre LaPaddelle wrote:

Why not add an instructional component to the 3rd Annual WESTFEST, which Smurf is, no doubt, already beginning to ponder for next July???

Jump in, Smurf !!! 8)

Rick

What specifically would you like to see happen in this area for Westfest #3?
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by 2opnboat1 »

Lets be honest hear and stop coming up with excuses. The reason more canoers dont take instruction is because we are all cheap. What other sport do you see gear taped together and patched up for twenty years and one were everyone is an expert. When I was teaching a bunch I would set in on anyones instruction I could I think everyone needs some one critiquing them on occasion
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by esprit »

Andrew and Carole Westwood have just confirmed as guest paddlers/instructors in CR with Esprit Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.

Just saying... :)

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

Post by yarnellboat »

The fact that travelling to Mexico or Costa Rica to get some appropriate coaching is the most realistic choice for me tells us something about the state and/or availability such instructors out West! There should be something that costs less time & money than that!

Bringing instructors out is great, but finding a point person to coordinate those arrangements - instructor's schedule & travel & gear; river location/logistics; participants' schedules, commitment, level, payment - falls through more often than it actually happens.

Maybe an instuctional tour to CA, OR, WA and BC could be an opportunity for an outfit like Esprit? We might fit nicely into shoulder seasons elsewhere? Bringing instructors here for local coaching would also be great relationship building (i.e., marketting) for getting participants into the Mex and CR programs?

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

Post by Shep »

My background is similar to truckeeboater's, and I am a level 4 ACA instructor. I have been out of pocket as this thread was developing, but I have found the comments all fascinating. Particularly comments by truckeeboater, Hazard Harry, Tommy, and Smurfwarrior.


I have some thoughts specifically related to the comments from Harry, Tommy, and Smurfwarrior, which point out some real problems with canoe instruction (and, by extension, ACA instructor programs). I think everything they have brought up is really productive, and none of this is meant to be argumentative.

I would be interested in getting more info from Smurf's perspective wrt how the ACA program could improve. I think the ACA is dealing with a specific challenge of trying to train volunteers to be instructors. In both of the Instructor courses I have taken, the trainers spent probably half of their time teaching people to be teachers, not focusing on paddling skills. Another big aspect was checking the instructor candidates skill competency (are they safe to be in this place with participants), judgement, and finally actually teaching the skills comes fourth. It's a lot to accomplish in 5-6 days with people who won't likely ever break even on their investment in the course.

That said, I do think there are a lot of ACA instructors in this world who could and should be better! I am fortunate that the ITs I have gotten to work with all have the ability to tell their candidates hard truths and fail people if their priorities are wrong.

WRT to all of the others, I think, in canoeing we miss the critical difference between classes and coaching. The ski industry has gotten this right, I think. Rank beginners need classes in order to see what the basic skills are and how they are applied. This would be equivalent to the first ~2 days or so of ski school. Obviously some participants chafe at ANY program that is made up of rote exercises and skills checks. It sounds like, from Harry, that this is what the AMC clinic is set up like. I don't think this is a failure of the clinic, but if they won't allow Harry to learn in his own style (not through their intro classes), and rejoin the flow for more advanced coaching later, than they are really sticking their foot in it!

I believe any athletic skill beyond the basic level needs to be treated as coaching, where the instructor has the responsibility to let the participant do the activity in their own way, observe, provide constructive feedback, and set appropriate challenges. Sadly, coaching is difficult to teach, and very few people seem to understand the difference. It's also not possible to coach as many people as it is to run through a class, which also makes it more difficult organizationally and economically. I think this is what people like Eli and others really excel at, and where I do believe that Tommy, Harry, me, and pretty much everyone else in the world could benefit from this, unfortunately we aren't clear on the difference, and good coaching is hard to find!

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

Post by Jim Michaud »

I know people that take canoe paddling courses every year and they still paddle only class II and III whitewater. One guy said that almost every instructor has a different style of paddling so he's now confused. If you're happy taking clinics every year then by all means go spend your money and have fun.

If, on the other hand, you just want to get better and start paddling class IV and V rivers then go out and start paddling with people that paddle the harder rivers, whether they're C-boaters or kayakers. You'll soon know what works and doesn't work. A good start would be to read Sammer Elias's tips every now and then. I happen to agree with every item that he wrote
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Re: Canoe instruction... why do so few of us pay for it?

Post by mahyongg »

Well, yeah, a good instructor is worth his or her weight in gold. Probably not a coincidence that the page with Sammers' info is the same that my coaches' dates are on.. :D

But he's also an IT and not just an I so I guess that's also making somewhat of a difference. Haven't yet experienced instruction by the, with all due respect, "lower ranks" of ACA.
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