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Old 11-22-2005   #51
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
I have seen the guide lines that the ACA uses for teaching beginners to paddle and that is part of what made me start thinking about how kayaking is taught, that and talking to several Instructors about their methodology. It seems to me that the ACA has a set list of skills to learn but no real method about how to approach teaching them.
Okay Ras- seeing(reading) the ACA guidelines and experiencing them through ACTUALLY learning them is a BIG difference. You seem to be an expert on something you have never even experienced. You know nothing about ACA and its methods! As a matter of fact, I received an email from a ACA instructor trainer about this post who thanked me for my acknowledement of ACA, and then said " I think its funny that RASDOGGY wants to change the industry without ever experiencing the industry standard. Those are the ones to look out for. I say that because it means they don’t have a bunch of structured experience. Newbies. I think its important not to re-invent instructional progression."

This instructor is part of a group of people who DO understand how to teach kayaking. These people have been ACTUALLY teaching and helping the sport progress for a very long time. ACA teaching methods have evolved as the boats have evolved. My first ACA certification was way different compared to re-cert I took 3 years later. Your instructor sources who tell you about their methodology might need to re-certify. REMEMBER- not everyone is a good teacher.

Ras- You do have some valid points. However, you have lost a lot of credibility in my book. You need to ACTUALLY experience something before you snap a judgement about it!


About Kayaking not growing due to no resorts, That was brought up at the WW symposium in Glenwood and I think that is not a valid point. First kayaking doesn't lend it's self to a resort setting like skiing does unless its from a playboat stand point. But it can be looked at like this, Colorado does have 3-4 kayaking resorts already in place. Durango, Buena Vista/Salida and Glenwood Springs, you can include Golden in this too. The Industry just needs to realize this and market it this way. Rivers already in place and hotels in place resturants there too, even camping, sounds like a resort to me. And it seems to be working for the Rafting company's.
DUH! It IS a valid point. You even made it valid by what you said. You are right about everything being in place for a resort type place, so maybe the industry would grow if somebody stepped up and created this. BTW- BV, Salida, Durango don't have kayak resorts. They have playparks with a instructional shop nearby...big difference. I think you are missing the point about what a resort is.

About Snowboarding growing due to the Mtn Dew/X games mind set that is just not true, the Ski resorts used to not allow snowboarders and they were seeing a decline in dollar/numbers that were going to resorts that allowed boarding, dad and mom skiied but the kids snowboarded so that was a no brainer for the resorts. Then when the Olympics turned up their nose at Snowboarding and Skateboarding the X Games were born.
I don't think it was THE ONLY reason snowboarding grew, but I think it was a BIG part of the equation. I even stated this in my post about it not being the ONLY thing. You are trying to twist my words! What do you think the X-Game's did to the image of snowboarding? My guess, is that it helped the sport grow. It gave it an image, and made it what it is today. What did resorts do after they realized this sport was growing so much? They built parks to capture this growth. Creating an image is so important. I would question your idea of what you think the kayak image should be; if you were around to experience the Scuba industry in the 70's my guess is that you are mid to late forties. I highly doubt you understand what creating an image really means. Especially if you are preaching "Slalom is the way to get kids involved." That is just STUPID! Kids are attracted to an IMAGE. Just look at what they wear, it correlates to who they are trying to be. There are some very influencial kayakers who are trying to make this image happen, you will see sometime in the future about what I am talking about.

Look Ras - I like your intentions for the sport, and I don't doubt you are making a difference to the paddling community. Thanks for that! HOWEVER, I doubt your actual knowledge of the kayak industry. My guess is that you have been kayaking at 1 or 2 years at best, how can you be an expert?


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Old 11-22-2005   #52
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 8
This is my second season kayaking and I playboat and just started slalom. First, I do agree that slalom isn't the best way to get kids and teens involved, but I do not believe that the reason is the gear. Slalom is fun to watch ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!! I mean, if you don't know any thing about the pattern or gates demarcations, how fun is it to watch them going through what appears to be random gates? While if waching a playboater that kicks butt do flips, spins, blunts, etc... is a lot more fun because you don't really have to undestand what is going on, you can just admire the fact that they can do that. Also, in the group i am in, it is required that you be able to roll before entering the beggining slalom level. Second, I believe a solid roll or swim, as the case may be, improves a boaters confidence alot. Rolls are a major thing to learn because they provide a way to avoid hypothermia, bruising, or both in one session. However, a roll is a hard skill to learn, I took the firt two levels at the local kayak school last year and came out with a rock solid swim and a loathing of t-rescues. My instructor in the second level ended up resorting to putting my grabloop in the boat to force me to roll, a failed effort. That winter, I went to the local gym for open kayak nights and finally got my roll... seven or eight months after my last class. A few weeks after my onside became rock solid, I began work on my offside independent from instructors with only the knowledge that if I missed it, I could do my onside. Swims on the other hand are an easier skill to master and even the knowledge that you can get to the shore in one peice is very reassuring. I also agree CUgirl that learning balance is a big deal


P.S. I am a 15 year old girl

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Old 11-22-2005   #53
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
Jmack, good points. And yeah, we may have to agree to disagree.

On a last/general note, I think that most paddlers (including myself in some ways) would prefer to believe that class III is less deadly because it means that we can relax more on easier whitewater (although this is relative to the paddler). If we knew that we were less likely to get into trouble on class III than on class V then it would be much easier to evaluate our personal risk, and to control the environment in which we paddled. I just don't think it works out that way.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 11-23-2005   #54
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
First off NOWHERE in ANY of my posts did I claim to be an EXPERT and NOWHERE did I say I wanted to change the way teaching is done. I was asking if anyone had any ideas about changes they would like to see in the way they were taught.
If you reread my posts you will see several referances to me claiming to be invloved with whitewater for just this past season. Everything that was written was as an impartail observer new to the sport of whitewater kayaking, talking to other kayakers and non kayakers about the sport.

I have been involved with the sports of sea kayaking and sit on top for quite afew years as a couple of resorts that I taught SCUBA at did intros and tours with these style of boats and we taught boat diving from sit on tops where we taught basic strokes/paddle use.

Also you will read that I am comparing the teaching methods of kayaking to that of teaching SCUBA and after teaching SCUBA for over 20 years and being involved with the growth to the level it is at today both retail and instructional, and teaching Instuctors to be Instructors I do think I know something about instruction methods.
Also running a well established retail dive center I know a little about marketing a fringe sport that is thought to be dangerous by the people not involved.
I don't mean to imply that teaching kayaking is the same as teaching SCUBA, but getting customers and keeping them is the same in either sport.

You know nothing about ACA and its methods! As a matter of fact, I received an email from a ACA instructor trainer about this post who thanked me for my acknowledement of ACA, and then said " I think its funny that RASDOGGY wants to change the industry without ever experiencing the industry standard. Those are the ones to look out for. I say that because it means they don’t have a bunch of structured experience. Newbies. I think its important not to re-invent instructional progression."
I have attended at least couple of dozen kayaking classes as an observer watching what was taught and how, with the intention of becoming an Instructor. By doing so I should have been exposed to the Indusrty standards.
Maybe it was some of the Instructors involved not teaching to the standards set by the ACA or maybe they didn't care about their students learning the skills and were there for the money or to work on their playboating skills.
BUT I could see how improvements can be made to the teaching of basic kayaking skills to improve students grasp of the basic skills and there for making the return rate and enjoyment level of said students higher.
Mostly this has to do with students that were not getting it, myself included. And the students that don't get it are the ones that don't come back bringing their friends and support the local shops or ACA or AW or anything else that has to do with the business of kayaking.
This is what I was paid to do in the SCUBA Industry watch Instructors and help them with ways on how to teach standard skills better.

To all Instructors or anyone from the ACA out there that has an issue with what I am saying feel free to contact me at I look forward to hearing from you.
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Old 11-23-2005   #55
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
RASDOGGY- I am not going to debate or argue with you over ACA methods. You need to actually go experience their program before you criticize it. Observing some lessons taught by a institutional shop is not the same as actually learning from ACA. Maybe these shops or instructors need some improvements.

Also, I am done debating you about growth of kayaking. You have no credibility. Sea Kayaking, Scuba, and rec boating are completely different sports. You have been WW kayaking for maybe 2 years, and I doubt you really understand the industry.

Good luck with your agendas.

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Old 11-23-2005   #56
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062


Becareful lumping all ACA instruction as equal quality. I've seen first hand how some current ACA instructors refuse to except modern techniques. Simple things like not leading the boat with your eyes during a sweep stroke or refusing to teach spin momentum. All because they're still teaching in Dancers and RPM's.

I've also worked with some of the most progressive ACA Instructors on the planet. People like Sam Drevo who are working to reform the ACA from the inside out.

PS: If you just swam in the last part rapid right above a large pool. Grab your stuff and swim to shore. If you swim above the rapid? Drop that shit and start the overhand sprint. Swim it like you mean it.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 11-23-2005   #57
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
I agree with you about the ACA old schoolers. I have heard of these instructors. I have been fortunate to take both of my ACA classes with the progressive group, and am also friends with one of the guys who is one of the leading instructor trainers for progressive development at ACA. In one of my posts I believe I said ACA is (OR SHOULD BE) up to date. I also made sure to empasize, not all instructors are good teachers. And, to add to that: Kayak shops that offer lessons should be up to date with their instructors as well their methods. If some guy is still teaching the old school methods, it would make me believe that he hasn't re-certed in the past few years.

BTW- I scanned both a ski mag and a kayak mag today. You couldn't be more dead on about the marketing.

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Old 11-23-2005   #58
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
I have been thinking a little more about your posts. And, I want to apologize for being kind of harsh towards you. You have some valid, credible, and good points. I don't agree with all of them, but I respect most of them.

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Old 11-24-2005   #59
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 122
I went on my first river in a kayak in 1998. I have been to a LOT of classes and seen a lot of different methods of teaching. I would like to become an ACA certified instructor eventually- after all,I teach about every other sport I do. I think that will be a goal for next season.

Most of the instructors I have had are ACA certified. They all teach differently. It is the same with PSIA certified ski instructors (I'm one)- we all have our own style and methods of teaching. I love hearing about and seeing how other instructors teach. I think every instructor or person who aspires to be an instructor can learn a lot from learning how other people teach. It makes us all better instructors I think.

So, I want to thank you, Rasdoggy, and everyone else for this topic, I think a lot of great points have been brought up.

I am sure everyone has heard about coloradokayakers atleast once or twice or a million times this season. right? For me, this group has helped me become many times more confident and more passionate about the sport. Organizations that provide newer kayakers with support and paddling partners probably do more for the sport than anything- PPWC, CWWA, and our unofficial little group ( help people CONTINUE with the sport after trying it out, and thus support the industry.

I didn't paddle in any rivers from that first time in 1998 until 2002 because I couldn't find anyone at my level to paddle with. Having organized groups and places to go to find partners is essential for the sport... making sure that, as instructors and shops and groups, we help new customers/paddlers find the support they may need to continue in the sport is the best thing we can do to help this sport grow and help people who are trying to make a living doing what we love succeed in that endeavor.

My 2 cents

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Old 11-24-2005   #60
ski/kayak bum
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 460
you just singlehandedly managed to talk me out of taking ACA courses by comparing their instructors to PSIA trained skiers (i've known a few cool ones but most still remind me of Aspen Extreme).......thanks for the warning...


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