Friday, June 19, 2009

White Water Certification Training, day 5

The last day where we see how we've progressed and what level we are now qualified to teach at.

More Teaching
We were again given out topics to teach today. Many of us received two topics to work on and most of them were group teaching topics. While everything we have learned is possible to teach alone, it is also possible that most classes will have more then one instructor so team teaching is valuable to learn as well. Most people didn't initially fair well with the team teaching but we are all improving. Most team talking is occurring before the "lesson" and everyone seems to be getting smoother in their teaching style. Most of us are still a little rough around the edges.

Getting to the Gorge
As our final test (which I thought was going to be written, hah), we did a gorge run. We started at Angler's Inn and paddled up along the canal to Sandy Beach, our put in. Most of the flat water aspects of the teaching took place along the canal. We then stopped to jump off canal falls, a small spill over along the canal leading to an eight foot drop. I wasn't too sure about going over but figured why not. I watched a few times then I took the plunge, literally. I never had my stomach greet my tonsils before now. Hope they enjoyed the party. It really was fun to do though. The long schlep to get to the put in wasn't fun. We walked about a quarter mile with the boats over the C&O towpath. My boat kept getting heavier. Plus I was really hungry.

Back Channel

I think I have seen the back channel that high before, but I had never kayaked it before. In fact, I don't think I have solo kayaked the Potomac this high up before when the water was over 5.5 feet. We had two of the students acting as instructors for this portion of the river run. They did a great job. We all paired off and worked together as some people were not quite as sure of the level of current then others. I was nervous but did well. We did get out and scout the last larger rapid. Not everyone wanted to get out but I think it was a good drill and we learned from it. The instructor show a picture of us before we ran it, we have the happy faces and scared faces photo. What a group.

I have been to rocky before when the water was higher then this but I was in a tandem kayak. This was definitely bigger in a solo boat. I didn't have to ferry across but the instructor set us a drill and I wanted to see if I could do it, so I ferried across. Then I had to ferry back. I was able to stay upright but I wasn't that comfortable in the boat. I think this was technically only class II current as well, maybe a II+. I need to get more comfortable in bigger water.

Center Chutes
We continued down past Wet Bottom and through the gorge. I rolled just to say I did and could. We goofed off a little as it was moving but flat. Center chutes afforded some surfing opportunities for us. The instructor had someone try to give a surfing talk but he wasn't sure about the concept himself. We did get to go out and play. There were two waves, and they were long enough that someone more experienced could get out into the center of the wave and the lesser experienced people could surf the side of the wave and still get back out to the safety of the eddy.

The talk
After scarfing a quick lunch I wasn't sure what to expect next. We were back at the camp and the instructor was talking to all of us one on one. I figured this was the test part. I was still waiting for some really big paper based test, but to no avail. This was just a talk after everything was over telling us how we did and what level we achieved. I found out that I was almost an L4. Had I been more comfortable on the gorge run in the big water, and if I had tightened up my strokes I would have been up there. As it was, I have a few bad habits. But having the sea kayaking experience really helped me to hammer down some of the strokes and concepts as I had previously learned them in sea kayaking. This means if I certify for sea kayaking in the fall I should do quite well. In the end I got an L3.

Let the teaching begin
Before I went in to talk to the instructor, I was talking to the guy who got me into the class, looks like I will be teaching two classes this weekend, which is great. I will be able to but my newly developed skills to work. I do know that the place I am teaching through teaches a little differently from the ACA style. I will have to go and watch the Jackson DVD that explains the other teaching style to more conform with the teaching style of the kayak school.

After 5 days of non-stop classroom and on-water instruction, I haven't had enough water as I then went out afterwards to join in with the social paddle. And start teaching what I have just learned how to teach.

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