(This blog first appeared on the Sundance Kayak School site and can be found here.)
India has an active kayaking community (along with tons of epic rivers!), bolstered recently by its two major kayak festivals: Ganga Kayak Festival and Malabar River Festival. But our community has not yet matured toward standardization. Sure, there are safety and first aid courses that paddlers can take. But for instructing and guiding, there is no level of instructor-level requirements, allowing each instructor to determine his* own way of teaching both on and off the river.
Our company, Expeditions India, is increasingly getting requests from clients to obtain a certificate after their kayak session with us. They want recognition from a higher body that the course that they have taken has met certain requirements and covered specific topics. As of now, India doesn’t have anything like the American Canoe Association, with its “golden standard of excellence”. So I signed up for an ACA Kayak Instructor course, with the hope of becoming only the second kayak instructor in the country to earn this recognition.
In this course, I hope to learn new ways of teaching to add to my toolbox. Often times I get feedback that I can be a bit hard-handed in my teaching, so I look forward to learning alternative methods of teaching and also about how different people learn. It’s the soft skills that I hope to absorb most: how to become a more perceptive and flexible teacher. Finally, in addition to running my company, I also work as a NOLS instructor, so learning new teaching methods is always welcome.
I’m traveling with my family, including my baby daughter, from India to the USA for the summer to work with NOLS and am squeezing in this ACA course during my short break. My family will be camping (first time for our daughter!) while I take the course. We’re all excited to experience the beauties of the Rogue River together with the good folks of Sundance Kayak School in June. It’s clear from their website that these folks share our absolute love of kayaking, which is why we signed up with them. We’ll see you on the Rogue!
*Unfortunately only “his” still, in India, as we are not aware of any female kayak instructors in our country…yet.