Meet Some Of Our Instructors

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Jayson Seaman

Other Occupation/ Interests:
Asst. Professor of Outdoor Education, University of New Hampshire

Certifications:
ACA Whitewater Kayaking; Wilderness First Responder; NH Secondary Education English Teaching

Year Started Paddling: 
1998

A first paddling story/moment; how or where you learned; what made it click:
I perfected my combat roll while kayak surfing in the ocean – a great place to practice while (safely) getting tossed around (a sandy beach is more forgiving on the noggin than river rocks when you spend as much time upside down as I did).

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
Janet Cowie’s paddling and teaching style is a great model for me!

Why did you start teaching:
To spread the love and respect for whitewater paddling

Best teaching moment:
Continuing to see Dennis Jr. grow and develop as an outstanding paddler and instructor (and seeing other former Zoar students tearing it up on their own years afterward!)

Why do you choose to teach at Zoar Outdoor:
Great people to work with (staff and customers alike); I especially admire Zoar’s commitment to relationships and to the environment, as well as the new programs they are constantly developing. And Joel’s salsa and squash soup are unparalleled.

 

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Mike Vecchiarelli

What other sports do you do?
Rock climbing, mountain biking, x-country and back country skiing, mountaineering, archery, running, racquetball.

What is something you like to do when you are not paddling?
Mechanical tinkering.

Certifications:
Wilderness Medicine and Kayaking

Year Started Paddling:
1988

What is your favorite paddling memory?
9 days of straight paddling starting at Gauley Fest and the New River, then Yaug and Deleware, then to Maine for the Penobscott, with a brief side trip to Sumner Falls.

Loved it from the first river trip and still loving it.

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
The river gives me lots of feedback all the time.

Why did you start teaching:
Started as another fun thing to teach kids in the outdoors. Also, selfishly, it's the best way to learn.

Best teaching moment:
Being there when folks come through their first rapid.

Why do you choose to teach at Zoar Outdoor:
Zoar is where I live and play, and has the programs I do (kayaking, biking, climbing...)

 

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James Sullivan

Other Occupation/Interests:
Ski demo shop supervisor in MT, most self-powered outdoor sports especially when gravity or wind is involved

Certifications:
WFR: ACA kayak, canoe, river rescue

Year Started Paddling:
1996

A first paddling story/moment; how or where you learned; what made it click:
When I first was shown how to ferry it definitely did not click. I tried the same ferry three times at the play hole at T-ville and swam each time. Each time I swam we also practiced throwing throw bags so at least I didn’t have to swim hard.

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
One of the best things about learning to paddle out here is that I’ve always have had a mentor. I started off working at an overnight camp that taught kayaking and Scott Cook and fellow staff were my mentor/s. When I was sixteen, Tom Foster took me under his wing while his school was open in Millers Falls. Currently Janet mentors me with the business side of instruction, the river makes a great office.

Why did you start teaching:
All my friends did it.

Best teaching moment:
There have been many, my favorite is when I see a student years later and they have become solid paddlers. It’s always great when a student is super motivated to be there.

Why do you choose to teach at Zoar Outdoor:
Like Bruce, Janet makes me too. Really though, it is a great community and close to where I grew up.

 

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Mike Porter

What year did you start paddling:
01-02 ish?

Occupation (when not teaching at Zoar or in the off season):
eccentric billionaire/ Mt. Snow rescue in the winter, random contract guide jobs, snow/skate shop bum, living in a van, etc…

What certifications and other cool awards do you have?
WFR, OEC, NSP, I’m also a snowboard guy AASI I, lots of consolation prizes from losing at contests, canopy zip line guide and rescue guide, driver’s license, passport, stuff…

What is your first paddling memory?
Paddling Fife brook with Jimmy, Pennell, and bunch of new guides from my first year at Zoar.

What is something you like to do when you are not paddling?
Skate, ride boards, shred the soul gnar

Why do you teach at Zoar?
I love to teach, the camaraderie, transference of skills. It becomes an internal struggle to always teach in the most efficient and effective way. It’s almost competitive. It’s also nice to break up the work week doing something different.

What was your best teaching moment?
It’s nice to paddle with folks who’ve taken past clinics and watch how they’ve improved and become addicted to the sport.

What other sports do you do?
I’ve been snowboarding forever, skating for almost as long, surf, climb, bike sometimes a lot or not…

How did you start paddling?
When I started working with the folks at Zoar they just immersed me in the paddling world, it was like I didn’t have a choice! Good thing I love it!

 

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Dennis Moore

What certifications do you have:
ACA; EMT-B; Swift water rescue

What year did you start paddling:
2005

What other Sports do you enjoy:
Volleyball, and Surfing

A first paddling story/moment; how or where you learned; what made it click:
The first few times i kayaked I was in a boat that was way too big for me. I think the first time I sat in a Jackson Fun 1.5, everything finally clicked. I could edge and turn and roll and my life was complete. That was the day I realized not only was I hooked but I was going to be in debt for a long time.

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
I would have to say my first ever instructor Jayson Seaman is my favorite instructor. To this day I still love just sitting back and watching his unique teaching style.

Why did you start teaching:
I shadowed clinics in 2007, and was an intern in 2008, and 2009 will be my first season as a regular full-time instructor.

Why did you start teaching:
I started teaching because I truly love the sport of kayaking. I think it is a great experience for people and it has helped me develop as a person. I want to be able to give other people the same enjoyment that I have every time I sit in a boat. I just want to pass on my love of kayaking to other people, and I love watching people progress.

Best teaching moment:
I would have to say my favorite teaching moment was when one of my students, who at the beginning of the clinic was terrified of water in general, finally started to relax and actually has greatly progressed as a paddler.

Why do you choose to teach at Zoar Outdoor:
Zoar outdoor is not just a place to work. It's an entire kayaking community and the staff is a big family. I took my first ever kayaking clinic at Zoar and fell in love with the people. I chose to teach for Zoar for those very reasons.

 

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Brian Mernoff

Other Occupation/ Interests:
Swimming, Teaching

Certifications:
CPR, ACA, AED, Life Guard, First Aid, SRT, WFR

Year Started Paddling:
2004

A first paddling story/moment; how or where you learned; what made it click:
I took my first kayaking clinic at Zoar Outdoor with my dad after seeing the kayakers on the river during a rafting trip. After the first day on the river I fell in love with the sport. It was just me, the boat, the water, and a whole lot of fun. Soon after, I took a second novice clinic and began a long process of convincing my dad that buying me a kayak would be a great idea.

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
One of my favorite mentors is my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Goodwin. He made a very difficult and dense subject fun and exciting for everyone in the class. A class never went by without a number of laughs. Towards the end of my senior year I began to ask him about how he did what he did so well as I too want to become a teacher. I always remember his advice while I teach now, whether its kayaking, swimming, music, or anything else

Why did you start teaching:
I was introduced to teaching when I was fourteen when I assisted swim lessons. There is nothing more exciting than seeing a student's mind suddenly "click", especially after a lot of work has gone into teaching them the material or skill. Because of this feeling, I have taken as many teaching opportunities as possible, including becoming a white water kayaking instructor.

Best teaching moment:
I had a small two person clinic in which one woman was unable to paddle in a generally straight direction (as a perfectly straight line is close to impossible for any paddler). We worked for several hours on the pond on every aspect of forward paddling. By lunch time, she was getting close, but it still had not clicked. That afternoon we traveled to the river. After running the first rapid, we decided to work on forward paddling again on a flat section. Within 15 minutes, it suddenly clicked. She paddled in a straight-line and the smile on her face was amazing. During the remainder of the day, her confidence could not be shaken. She had worked hard and completed her goal for the day.

Why do you choose to teach at Zoar Outdoor:
Besides being one of the few kayak schools in the area, Zoar is an extremely supportive company. I always know that I can ask any of the other staff for help if I need it. Many of the managers also work side by side with the other employees, adding to their support and creating a close knit family within the company.

 

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Hillary Friedman

What year did you start paddling:
2005

What certifications and other cool awards do you have:
WFR; ACA WW K1; CPR/AED

What is your favorite paddling memory:
Flying through the air on a boof stroke on the lower section of the Beaver River

What is something you like to do when you are not paddling:
Skiin’ in deep powder

Why do you teach at Zoar:
I like to share my love for whitewater paddling with others.

What kind of boats do you paddle and how many do you own:
Playboat: Wavesport Project 45
Creekboat: Liquidlogic Jefe Chico

What other sports do you do:
Big Mountain Riding, Power Yoga, Running and Rock Climbing

How did you start paddling:
I flipped over a lot.

 

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Scott Johnson

Other Occupation/ Interests:
Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Mtn Biking, Farming

Certifications:
ACA Kayak, canoe and swiftwater Rescue, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, WFR, Lifeguard

Year Started Paddling:
1980

A first paddling story/moment; how or where you learned; what made it click:
Running a long technical rapid on the remote Bonaventure River in the Gaspe Peninsula, Canada. The wilderness feel, the group I was with and the focus required to run it cleanly all made this a river trip that I'll never forget.

Did you have a favorite instructor/mentor/coach:
I went to college with Dan Gavere in Montana. He and several others were a huge inspiration to me.

Why did you start teaching:
1999-To share the joy of paddling rivers. Also, so more people can benefit from learning from an experienced instructor-something many of us never had.

Best teaching moment:
2 years ago, I brought a total beginner from the very basics up to paddling class III in just a few days. On their first run down the Gap, they flipped, then successfully rolled up and finish the rapid upright! It was a huge moment for them-where everything clicked and their confidence in their abilities zoomed and caught up with their actual skills.

 

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Rachel DeMaine

Year started paddling:
2005

Occupation (when not teaching at Zoar:
Sales Analyst at Millennium Pharmaceuticals

What certifications and other cool awards do you have:
ACA Certification

What is your favorite paddling memory:
I met my husband. (I am curious what his is!)

What is something you like to do when you are not paddling:
I like climbing, snowboarding, cookies and baking. (I have been told my cookies are kind of like crack!)

Why do you teach at Zoar:
After sitting in the office all week, I could not think of a better way to spend my weekend than on the water. Teaching people a sport I love and watch them learn to enjoy it as well is great!

What other sports do you do:
Climbing (just started!), snowboarding, and according to my husband I am a gym rat! (I used to row (crew) but after 9 years, couldn't do it any more)

How did you start paddling:
My sister lived in Atlanta for 2 year, the group that she was friends with down there were very big into outdoor sports. She went a few times and liked it. For her graduation from Grad school, I took the two of us

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Bruce Lessels

Year started paddling:
1975

What certifications and other cool awards do you have:
ACA ITE – ww kayak , canoe, ACA IT – swiftwater rescue
3rd C-1 World Championships, Bourg St Maurice, 1987

What is your favorite paddling memory:
Running rivers in Chile – great whitewater, warm weather and cheap food!

What is you favorite food or color or superhero or something you would like to disclose:
Favorite food: SUSHI!
Favorite superhero: SUSHIMAN!

What is something you like to do when you are not paddling
Biking, being with my kids

Why do you teach at Zoar:
Janet makes me

What kind of boats do you paddle and how many do you own:
Plastic ones, 65

What other sports do you do:
Biking, basketball

How did you start paddling:
Boston AMC instruction program in 1975

 

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Jeff DeMaine

Years Paddling:
5+ Years at Zoar

Occupation:
Fire Protection Engineer Certification - Professional Engineer License Favorite Paddling memory - Running the dryway on a non- scheduled release day (bonus day)

Why teach at Zoar:
Great way to introduce people to the sport while perfecting your technique.

Other sports:
Telemark/alpine skiing, rock climbing

 

 

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