"What will be covered during the Paddler Development Weekend?"

Recently, I received an email asking what is taught during the Paddler Development Intensive (next offered on August 25-27).    I'll admit, I've chosen a vague course title for these popular intermediate-to-advanced clusters of courses, so that I can individualize instruction to each paddler's needs and create learning experiences that are responsive to the students' skills, their state of mind, and the opportunities that the environment presents us with.  Fixed curricula or specific course titles sometimes impede learner-driven instruction.

"But really, what's covered in the course?"  Fair enough - you want to know what you're signing up for.  Specifics vary somewhat with weather and the group’s needs, but here’s a likely example of how it might go.


We’ll spend day one in a coastal venue with some surf, some ledges, some swell - working to refine existing strokes, and utilizing the energy in the environment to make maneuvering more effective.  One of our goals might be to improve our understanding of how the environment effects the boat, and learn how to select strokes to use that energy to our advantage.  

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Day two will be at a Reversing Tidal Falls, and we’ll work on crossing eddy lines (from mild to extremely pushy, depending on each student's needs), use those skills to surf standing waves (from pequeño to grande, depending on each student's needs), practice rescues and perhaps towing in current, and maybe touch up our rolling technique in flat water and then in more challenging conditions.  Throughout, we’re looking for similarities between the different venues, and fundamental principles that improve our performance in all of sea kayaking.

Our venue for day three might depend on what the conditions are offering us, and perhaps what the students would like more of.  A likely option would be to seek a more exposed coastal venue, perhaps with a bit of offshore tide-race and do some more surfing and rock gardening, as well as a bit of safety and decision-making in rocky environments.  Incident management, difficult rescues, surf landing/launching, no-landing zone landings are all on the menu of possibilities.  In addition to continuing some existing themes (such as use of momentum, or stroke placement to improve turning effectiveness), this day might include some of the leadership concepts involved in planning and managing play in more complex coastal locales, and evaluating play spots for safety.  

This 3-day format has been well-received by students over the last few years, and I've been offering more of these options each season.  Participants have said that they appreciate the way concepts build through the three days, and how commonalities are woven from one venue to the next.  

If you've taken one of these 3-day clusters in the past, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the format, either in the comments here or in an email.   If you haven't, consider giving it a try, and let me know if you have any questions.  I'll try not to be purposely vague!

Looking forward to paddling with some of you in the coming weeks!