by Janet Burnett Cowie
This weekend was my first experience at a Zoar Staff training. Going into it I was a little nervous and even a little intimidated because I wasn’t sure what to expect my first time.
Even though it technically was my first training I still followed the schedule like a returning employee, mostly because I had gotten the feel of things last year and had a pretty good idea of what Zoar was all about, or at least I thought so.
The day was broken up into a lot of different stations where some of the more seasoned instructors/staff were able to share some of their experience with the other staff. A lot of the training was safety based, and I learned a lot of new techniques and knowledge that I hadn’t known previously.
There was also a lot of collaboration between the kayaking instructors, and we spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting different teaching techniques, and how to improve our interaction with students. I really liked how it was all about making a lasting connection with students so we can share our love of paddling with them.
The second day the kayak instructors and myself headed to the pool at Hampshire College which was a super nice facility and perfect for some practice. We spent more time sharing teaching techniques and breaking down things we teach to new paddlers and making it more efficient and easier to understand. I personally found this really helpful because sometimes its difficult to translate the motion that you’re so confident in and well practiced in into individual steps.
After some time spent going over that, there was a chance to play some games as kayak instructors which was really a lot of fun, and then some time to work whatever we wanted to. I used that time to work on my bow-stall, which is balancing on the front end of your boat using your legs, paddle, and boat to make a sort of A-frame. I had been trying and trying to get this skill for a long time but I was so happy when I finally was able to balance on my bow for a good thirty seconds. Whether or not I’ll be able to replicate that in the river is a different matter, but I was really happy that I was able to achieve that goal.
Overall I learned a lot from a lot of knowledgeable people, who I’m so grateful to be able to work with. I can’t wait to learn more from them on this river this summer.