The Oregon Kayaking and Canoe Club here in the Portland area also offers members a chance to come together and practice their skills with help from more experienced club members within a structured learning environment.
They organize the practice sessions into a progression for beginners and intermediates. I have been volunteering here and there with them the last few years by helping lead sessions for the intermediates. I really enjoy it because it gives me a chance to check up on students I've in my beginner classes at Alder Creek and connect with new paddlers I might normally get to paddle with. This year I committed to one session per month into the spring.
I've sort of snoozed on this post, but these are some photos of the gang from the first session. We had a great time. The turn out was unbelievable. Twenty-four people were eager to come out and play in the cold January snowmelt. Since this was the first session of the year we started out at the reservoir below Memaloose on the Clackamas River. Then we went up for a high water Bob's to Memaloose run.
It's important to get people's names. I knew most already, but everyone else needed to learn each other's names too. We started on land with the good ole' name game.
We laid some ground rules and expectations for the progression. With such a large group I needed to let them know what I needed from them.
It was pretty cold that day...
...So we got right to a game.
This throw tope obstacle course gave us a chance to practice our throwing AND dodging skills.
R O P E !!!
Once on the water we did some group flat water maneuvering skills. A 24 to 1 ratio is a little rough, but I did what I could. People seemed to really enjoy it.
(Maybe not John who was cramped in the purple fluid :)
After the flat water session we grabbed some lunch and hit the river. These sort of on-going progression style sessions are a great way to keep peoples skills up. It's all about a continual doses of practice and feedback. We all have something we can improve on. If you don't have something like this in your paddling community...start one.