By Eric Jackson
It seems that people wonder about what it is like to learn kayaking in a group setting with me… “Will I be the weak link?” “Am I ready for the clinic?” “Will I be challenged enough?” These are common questions that get asked when booking a clinic with me. The answer is yes, yes, and yes. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and almost everyone is the best at something and also the weakest at something. My strong suit is pushing you into a new level of performance and confidence, and the nuts and bolts combined with the psychology of kayaking. Mostly, however, I just want to have fun and want you to have fun also.
This morning I was sure I was teaching a youth clinic. Ages 10-18. When I got to the NOC store, it was more like 30-65. Cool- I love teaching adults because they appreciate the time on the water, had to work for it, and want the most out of it. They never squander the time like kids sometimes do because it all came to easy for them.
We voted on the put-in today and everyone wanted to go to the top, for the long day. NOC provided me with Annabelle, who just completed her ACA certification yesterday, to help me and she was awesome. Steve drove shuttle and kept things organized.
The day was a mix of strokes, concepts, rolling, bracing, river running, rock boofing, new lines, new leaders showing us the way down rapids, and other fun stuff.
We learned about the best mental focus for kayaking- a “broad-external focus” and practiced that. Everyone had to look at me and give me their “gang sign” 1/2 way down the “Falls” to prove that they were in a broad-external focus state at the crux moment. It worked wonderfully and we had only one flip out of 13 people. Anyone who has watched this rapid realizes that the average flip rate is about 30-40% for people in this skill level.
I made a video showing off some of our class. I know everyone didn’t make it and some more than most, but that is the nature of freeform GoPro video and EJ editing on the drive home (Kristine was driving).
Wonderful group, wonderful NOC hospitality, and the Zen, Karma, and Fun were the “Heroes” of the trip… Awesome!
I hope to paddle with everyone again soon!