I actually had decided going into my Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructor Course, that I wasn’t going to blog about it.  I had things to learn and too much to do and needed to be serious and focused on learning as much as possible.

Studying while kayak camping weeks before the course

No time for pictures, (HAHAHA, yeah, well, I always get a few pics!!) But I think you get the drift of what I’m saying. This was a serious thing, to me, and I wanted to stay 100% focused on it and not on what I would write about later, and I did do just that.  Well, until the course was over.  Then I pulled a total pisces move and changed my mind completely and this post is the result of that.

My binder full of 3 weeks of preparation & homework!

When I heard about the Level 1 Instructor Course at Ontario Sea Kayak Centre just before the OAS, I was curious.  So, when I saw my coaches James, Dympna, Craig and Kyle, all together at the OSKC booth, I was sure it was a sign.  I asked a few questions about the course and pondered it for a few weeks asking the advice of some of my  friends along the way.

I started taking courses a few years ago to be better equipped to do the things I love.  Last June I took my Level 1 Sea Kayak Course and a month later my Level 2.  It took some extra time and work to completely pass my Level 2, but I earned it happily in September.  I was told that it is recommended to take 3-6 months in between these courses to practice what you’d learned and perfect your skills. As I had not, I had to continue practicing a few skills I’d struggled with during the course, before my certificate would be granted.  I worked hard and eventually earned my certificate gratefully.

Three weeks before the course, we received an email with our packages and homework assignments.  I spent every free moment I had, and even made more free time by cancelling some trips, so that I could focus on being totally prepared for this course.  When I set my mind to do something, I do it, no matter what and this was no different.

With the fee for the course, we were invited to stay on the premises of Ontario Sea Kayak Centre’s beautiful Harmony Inn.  I was given the same glamping tent I had for my Level 1 and was sharing it with my classmate Heidi, who was very kind and sweet!

I spent most of my time on the water and in the pavilion doing homework and more homework.  Somehow even though I did homework for weeks in advance, I still had more to do, and we also had to do some group homework all together.

The first day we started at 9am with a briefing, introduction and course overview in the pavilion. We went over a few things and then got in our drysuits to hit the water.  This course is one of the main reasons I got my Kokatat drysuit and with the gloomy rainy weather we were given, I was incredibly happy to have it.

Once on the water, we went over some skills and then had videos made of us performing those skills so we could review them and learn how to critique others, and also to learn what we were doing wrong.  It was definitely a humbling experience, but I used everything we were shown to work harder and make sure my skills improved.  In order to teach a skill you must perfect it.

I got this goofy looking  diving neoprene head piece to keep my head warm when I went under water. The water was still very very cold during the long weekend, which is when my course began, and going underwater over and over again for wet exits, rescues etc, made for a long cold night with wet hair that never seemed to dry.  The head piece did keep my head warm, but unfortunately did not keep my hair dry.  I was still glad I spent the $20 online for it though as it gave me courage and did give me some warmth at least, while on the water.

The days were long.  I would get up early and prepare and stay up late doing the same.

On the 3rd day, we were to instruct the class as they were level 1 students on our assigned topics.  I got up a few hours before we were expected to meet up with the group and went for a paddle to go over what I was to teach, talking to the animals and looking like a crazy person chattering away all by myself out in the middle of the river.

I knew that in order to practice my lessons, I had to say what I planned out loud and actually run through it a few times as I would do it in front of everyone, so that’s what I did.

We learned on the water, we learned off the water.  We sat inside, we stood outside.  We continued to fill our heads with the knowledge required to become a Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructor and by the end of day 3, I was getting really overwhelmed.

We were told that day 4 would be us finishing off the final lessons from the day before and then we would be given additional lessons to teach with just a bit of notice and would have to show we could teach that topic.  We all did what was assigned to us and completed all the lessons. Then we played a few really fun kayaking games.

After that we were told to put all the kayaks and gear away and then come up and get debriefed one at a time and get our course results.

I waited and waited, watching people go up to get their feedback one by one. As I didn’t have a long drive home, I opted to let others go ahead, but I think secretly I was delaying my turn because I didn’t feel very confident of my results.  I did a good job for the most part, but I wasn’t sure if it was enough?  Sometimes, things in real life aren’t always the same as you think they are in your mind.

In the end, my instincts were correct.  I sadly did not pass my Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructor Course.  I listened to the reasons and understood why. What I didn’t expect to hear was that I was being given a Basic Sea Kayak Instructor Certification instead!  So yes, I am an instructor now.  I unfortunately did not earn the certificate I was aiming for, but I still got something pretty great and even though I was really disappointed, I understood that in less than a years time, I have come so very far, not only in my training, but in my life overall.  I learned so much on this journey and met some amazing people during the 4 days I spent at OSKC.  I will continue to learn and gain experience and, in time, I believe I will eventually meet my goal.

Sometimes, being excellent at something takes longer than you want it to, but it doesn’t mean you will never get there, it just means it might take a little more time and patience.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. Thank you to all the amazing people I was privileged enough to meet and train with,  and thank you especially to my amazing coaches, Dympna Hayes, James Roberts and Santiago Berreuta.

I hope you come back to check out my next post on The Women on Water Paddling Festival (WOW), where I put some of my new skills to the test and do a bit of instructing with some wild women!

Happy Learning!

Camper Christina