By Shanna, Matt & Nicole
This year’s students were a joy to teach! As we see with each class, people come in with a wide range of experiences and goals. Interests range from just wanting to learn about white water kayaking, to wanting to build skills for extended river trips. Many of the students have some white water experience and made a deliberate decision to better educate themselves after an uncomfortable experience on the water. We had people trying out the sport with partners, family members attempting a new sport together, and those just testing white water kayaking out on their own. There were sixteen students in all, ranging in age from 19 to over 50. More than two-thirds of the class were men, slightly higher than what we’ve seen in the past.
So how is the class structured? It’s morphed over the past few years to accommodate busy schedules and to better utilize electronic tools. New for 2014, the class was held over four weekends. Material introduced on Saturday was put into practice the following day. Homework was an important component of the class. In addition to the textbook, students had access to a roll video (also available to WKC club members via the home page), electronically scanned documents, and presentations on YouTube for specific topics covered in class.
Engaging the student is important, so efforts were made to provide hands-on learning experiences. On the first day, students brought their outer wear and “under wear” to class and received feedback about gear that was missing. A great check before our first outing! During extra time before the pool sessions, we provided feedback about current boat rigging and taught students how to rig vehicles safely.
We followed-up by taking students out to the Sammamish River where it enters Lake Washington. This worked well in place of the traditional lake day, by providing a relaxing introduction to moving water while students practiced the basic strokes. After this initial introduction to current, we transitioned to different rivers the remaining weekends. The “graduation” paddle consisted of a class club trip which required students to sign-up through the club’s website to participate, as would be required of any club member on future trips.
There are a number of other programs for teaching white water kayaking. This class is advertised as an introduction to white water, so we start at the beginning to build a strong foundation. Unique to this program is that it is taught by club members who are ACA-certified instructors, along with the support of club members who recently completed the beginner white water class. These former students want to give back to the club through their participation. In doing so, they are able to connect with new students by sharing their learning experiences. This creates a wonderful tradition of being part of a club and helping others along the way. We look forward to getting out on the rivers with our new paddling buddies. Congratulations to the Class of 2014!
Does this class structure work? It’s hard to know without feedback so we are once again surveying the students about their experience. We will share results when they are available.
Special recognition to the support crew for 2014:
Photo (left to right): Cort, Chuck, Megan, Erin, Colin, Theresa, Corey, Misha, Tomas, Aaron, Devin, Erin, Jason, Tim, Jennifer, and Robert at the Powerhouse on March 23, 2014
Photo: Roll night at the pool on March 15, 2014