As a young kid every time I flipped, I swam. When I joined the Ottawa River Runners club I had access to the swimming pool. I learned to roll in five minutes.
Submitted by: Dirk Van Wijk, Instructor-Trainer (Madawaska River, ON)
We were at Ritchie Island, Kejimkujik National Park, with three of Nova Scotia's most gifted instructors. I was trying to learn how to do figure of 8's with an 18-foot Gillies canoe. Not so simple for the novice. One of the instructors, John Lowe, stood knee-deep in the water while it was pouring rain for several hours. He coached me through the manoeuvres necessary to make round circles rather than the square, symmetrical circles. It was all about dynamic paddling and the lean. To this day I am grateful for his encouragement, sense of humour and dedication.
Submitted by: Darlene Ricker (Halifax, NS)
Doing drills like ferries, eddy turns and even straight-line paddling with my eyes closed. We all depend primarily on our eyesight for the input we use to put the boat where we want it. Ironically, literally closing my eyes figuratively "opened my eyes" to all the other senses I could receive input from. Learning to feel and hear the water, as well as see it, makes me a more precise paddler. Try it sometime on a known friendly stretch with a seeing-eye buddy nearby!
Tony Palmer, Instructor-Trainer ( Calgary, AB)
Embracing the fact that I am perfectly imperfect. I was working toward a leadership role in the kayak industry, yet I struggled with an efficient and stylish self-rescue for an inordinately long time. I remember the anguish of being the slowest and most uncoordinated member in many kayaking classes. Ironically, this inability to master skills easily is a quality that I now embrace. Working on my ‘cowboy rescue’ for the thousandth time while other paddlers were having fun on a lake felt like an exercise in futility. Then I got it! I wiggled, sculled, and managed to wedge my butt into the seat without tipping my boat over. The sense of satisfaction and joy in that moment was uplifting and profound. This personal ‘break through’ allows me to work with all learners with a sense of anticipation, confidence, and resounding belief that anyone can achieve anything with time, encouragement and dogged determination.
Submitted by: Sheila Porteous, Instructor (Victoria, BC)
My biggest breakthrough moment paddling was when I did my first successful roll. I know that many of us instructors teach that it is not an important "beginner" skill, but learning to roll gave me the confidence to push all of my skills further and helped me to greatly improve my overall paddling.
Submitted by: Ryan Young, Instructor (Corner Brook, NL)
I was attempting a ferry between two eddies on opposite sides of a river above a rather noisy hole. Again and again I ended up in the hole, until a friend of mine suggested looking at the eddy instead of the hole. On my next ferry I ended up in the eddy. Look at where you want to go, not what you want to avoid.
Submitted by: Peter Farr, Instructor (Gull or Madawaska Rivers, ON)