When I began Camper Christina I had lots of experience in years, but hadn’t taken many courses to further my learning. I believe taking courses is very important and you learn things you never imagined would be important. I also gained a huge amount of confidence with every course I took and continue to take courses as they are needed. Here is a list of some of the courses I have taken, which I am sure I will be adding to periodically, as the need arises.
Red Cross Wilderness First Aid with Steve Tripp: In the spring of 2015, I looked up some courses online. I had yet to start my blog, but the seeds were somehow already planted in my head and I decided the first thing I needed to learn was wilderness first aid. I had known that I would most likely be doing a lot of trips by myself and I needed to ensure I knew how to take care of myself if something happened out there, or, if I had someone with me, like my mom for example, and I needed to know how to deal with an emergency. The course was held at Frontenac Provincial Park in the height of bug season. Frontenac has backcountry cluster sites which makes it perfect for a group like ours. We camped from Friday night until Sunday early evening and the course was very demanding. There was so much to learn and we spent most of the weekend either going over the booklet, doing demos or running scenarios. We did one really late at night where we divided into 2 teams, one the rescuers, one the injured people. Steve even had fake blood and clothing so we could play the parts more accurately. I had never been involved in a course like this but it was really great. i learned so much in such a short time and had a blast getting to know my fellow classmates throughout the weekend If you spend a lot of time out in the forest, hiking, exploring, tripping, I would highly recommend taking this course with Steve or another Wilderness First Aid Course so you know what to do if you come across an emergency. To check out my post on this course, click here.
Paddle Canada Level 1 Sea Kayak Skills Course with Ontario Sea Kayak Centre: In June 2016, I decided to take my Level 1 Sea Kayak Skills Course with Ontario Sea Kayak Center. As I was now living in Muskoka (as of the month prior), and would be doing a lot more paddling, I thought it would be a good time to improve on my skills. It turned out to be an excellent idea because my skills from a basic course I took in 2004, sucked! From the moment I called and spoke to James Roberts (co-owner) I was inspired. He told me all about the course, that I could stay at their glamping tent in Parry Sound and it would be a great time. He was right. Upon arriving to OSKC, I was greeted by Molly the dog and felt instantly welcome. I later met Dympna Hayes, the only female level 4 coach in Ontario, Craig and Kyle, who would all have a part in shaping my life going forwards. It was an epic weekend. I made a lot of like minded friends, some who I am still in touch with and I gained so much confidence taking this course. If I can offer any advice for someone looking for a course, do your homework, pick a reputable organization with successful teachers and don’t delay it. The sooner you learn the right ways, the less you’ll have to retrain yourself later, like I did. I would highly recommend OSKC to anyone whether it be going on a trip to Baja or taking a course of any kind. Great organization with staff who excel at teaching and are just awesome all round cool people. If you would like to check out more on my level 1 sea kayaking course experience, check out the blog post here.
Paddle Canada Level 2 Sea Kayak Skills Course with Ontario Sea Kayak Centre: Well I obviously really loved my Level 1 Sea Kayak Course with OSKC because a month later, I was taking my Level 2. It is not actually recommended to take the 2 courses so closely together, but it’s just how it happened. One of the couples in my Level 1 were heading on trip in BC and they wanted their level 2. They needed to learn more so James & Dympna, having a cancellation for Canada Day weekend, decided to teach a last minute level 2. It was on Georgian Bay camping on Phillip Edward Island and it was tough. We battled big water, high waves, performed rescues in freezing cold Georgian Bay and it was awesome! I loved every minute of it and learned so much. Level 2, works with the skills you’ve learned in Level 1 and perfects them, adds new skills and rescues and turns you from a day paddler to an overnight tripper. You learn navigation and tonnes of tips and tricks for backcountry camping. This course made me feel amazing after completing it and gave me so much more confidence. I can’t say enough about the skill level that James and Dympna share with their students, the amount of information and the way they will keep at things until you get to where you want to be. Truly love them and OSKC for all they’ve given me. If you want to learn more about my Level 2 course, click here.
Paddle Canada Instructor & Basic Instructor Course with Ontario Sea Kayak Centre: A year after I finished my Level 1 and Level 2 courses with OSKC, I decided to further my education by getting my Instructor Certificate. This would allow me to teach on occasion if I wanted to, or needed to, provided I passed. The course was a multi day course over a long weekend and it was difficult. As I didn’t teach at all, and had been alternating between canoeing and kayaking since taking my Level 2. (mostly canoeing), my skills were pretty rusty. I worked really hard but only managed to get my Basic Instructor and not my full Instructor certificate, meaning I could teach a basic day course, but not a Level 1 multi day course. I wasn’t super disappointed. Even though I worked really hard, I felt like I didn’t use my skills enough to adequately teach a Level 1, but did feel strongly enough about my skills to be able to teach a basic course. James and Dympna, along with my other coaches all worked very hard to help me and offered to give me some additional training to bump up my certification, but I was happy with my Basic Instructor status. There is only so much time in life, and I prefer to spend that time doing what I really love, which for me, isn’t teaching. I do enjoy instructing every year at the Women on Water Festival which is an all womens paddling event held by OSKC, but other than that, I’m happy to know what I know and do what I love. Once again, as per the other 2 courses above, I highly recommend OSKC. If you’d like to see more on my Instructor Course, click here.
Wilderness Navigation, Level 1 and 2, Map & Compass: The weekend after I took my Wilderness First Aid Course, I was signed up to go back to Frontenac and take the Wilderness Navigation Course. I signed up for both days, Saturday being Level 1 Map & Compass and Sunday being Level 2 Map & Compass. I had been carrying a compass for years, but never really knew how to use it. This course was a good mixture of classroom learning and outdoor practical learning. The teacher was knowledgeable and gave each of us a great deal of attention ensuring we understood everything in detail. If you have never properly learned how to use a map and compass, I highly recommend this course. It was only $25.00 per day and so very worth every penny. If you would like to check out my post on this course, click here.
ORKCA Canoe Certifications Levels 1-4 with Kirkwood Canoe: In June of 2018, I decided it was time that I took some canoeing courses. I had lots of training in kayaking and even though I use a kayak paddle with my solo canoes, I still wanted to learn more about canoeing and using a canoe paddle properly. I asked a few people where a good place to learn this was and was referred several times to Judy Kirkwood from Kirkwood Canoe. Now I know why. Judy has been a canoe instructor for most of her life. She is a compassionate, kind soul with a talent for teaching and I can not say enough good things about her. Our course was during the height of bug season and even though Judy looked like she had the chicken pox by the end of the weekend, she didn’t complain or make a fuss, she just kept on teaching. After a very busy, bug bitten, fun filled weekend, I got my badge and felt like I now knew a bit more about paddling a canoe the way most people do. I will still be using my kayak paddle when I solo, it is just the way I feel I have the most control in dangerous situations, but I do know another way now as well, which makes me happy. If you would like to see more about my course with Judy, click here.