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Old 12-19-2006   #1
goldcamp's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 337
Quit kayaking?

My girlfriend started kayaking last spring and made some really good progress over the summer. I tried never to get her in over her head and she never really had a bad experience. I was always very supportive and never forced anything on her. She paddled Shoshone a couple of times at the end of summer. I was shocked when she told me the other day that she didn't know if she'd be kayaking again. She said she didn't want to spend the whole summer scared shitless. I didn't push her much on the issue. Any advice on how to keep her in the sport?

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Old 12-19-2006   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 586
Don't try to keep her in the sport.
It's not a sport that anybody should be talked into, at all. If you don't love it, aren't passionate, and don't REALLY want to do it, then you shouldn't do it.
I don't ever want to be on the river with somebody who's not sure they want to be there.
If she decides on her own that she wants to do it, awesome. We need more ladies on the rivers.
But if she says she doesn't want to do it, then that's it. Let it be.

(in my humble opinion)


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Old 12-19-2006   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 586
Oh - and sorry, I didn't realize this was on the Betty Buzz until just now (it was on the top of the list on the front page, you know?)
I feel like I just walked into the ladies' room on accident.
Excuse me.
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Old 12-19-2006   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Being in a kayak just didnt work for my wife. We bought a duckie and she goes on a few III trips. It keeps her connected without feeling like she is gonna die.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 12-19-2006   #5
Metro Area, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 214
i've had a very similar situation with my girl. she hasn't thrown in the towel, but her excitement about the upcoming season isn't really there either. she has mentioned that she would like to find some other female paddlers who would be willing to go with her, because she wants to "make some friends" from the sport. females are social creatures, so it would make sense that she might feel more comfortable with other female boaters.

we are going to try to get her hooked up with other female paddlers this spring. there are local groups that love to only paddle deckers/play parks/etc. and just take it easy.

it sounds like it was never much fun for your girl because she was white-knuckled the whole time, so maybe getting her set up with other's that are at the same ability level could make her feel comfortable while she gets over that initial learning curve.

just my $.02
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Old 12-19-2006   #6
lmaciag's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 670
I almost gave it up after my first year after an injury... and again after my second year because my friends had progressed past me while I was dealing with head issues from the first year. Two years ago I found a great group to paddle with and it made all the difference (80 days this year and moving into IVs). Maybe paddling with some other people will help. There is definitely a different vibe when it's all chicks too. Things mellow out, people aren't as afraid to ask questions, they see more of a peer on the river. Then again, I've seen people rely on their significant other and freak out when they aren't there.

Do they have rolls? Fearing a swim can be very intimidating. If not, perhaps some dedicated pool time over the winter. CWWA has a 'Mental Toughness' class that has produced some great results. I didn't go through it, but I know they spend a lot of time in the pool on rolling drills... unexpected flips, flip over and pass you paddle to the other hand then set up and roll, people jumping on your boat, bump them when they are trying to roll, etc. BUT, also knowing that someone is right there for a T-rescue. Maybe look into that or try some of it on your own. I saw a guy I know literally throwing his wife around the pool in her boat last year, she did FANTASTIC this past season.

I always try to throw in some time on easier stretches with less experienced folks. I'm over on the 'other' site more than here (coloradokayakers), but would like to get more involved here too. I'll post up when the snow starts to melt.

Honestly, I can't believe I ever contimplated leaving the sport... but I did. I'm glad I got over my issues, but it's not the right sport for everybody and that needs to be respected.

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Old 12-19-2006   #7
San Diego and Frisco, CO
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 107
I really can't add much here, ....the replies have covered the spectrum, ...and LOTS of really good advice here.
I can only add one wee anecdote. I paddled last spring in big water on a Class III- section of our local river with the Mom of two kids who are likely to be world class paddlers (if they want to be). The kids were really nice and attentive and so was hubby, but mom was a bundle of nerves being on something new. Wasn't hard, just unknown to her and intimidating as everything else was in flood stage. We let the kids and the dad go and I had her follow me down the rio.
She had all the skills, but just wanted to know WHAT was coming. I was so happy to show her all the VERY conservative lines and talked, talked talked to her. She had a great time.
Anyway, you will figure it out.

PS. IMHO the worst coach for a new or intermediate paddler is her hubby or significant other. I know there are good ones, but I am a big proponenet of finding someone else to fill that role.
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Old 12-20-2006   #8
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 475
get her the Girls at play video

Get her the Girls at Play video and have her first watch the Interview Chapters. Don't start with the technique chapters first. She'll be overwhelmed. Go straight to the women sharing their emotions and advice. It helped my daughters to hear the feelings and opinions of women and to respect their influence and accomplishments. Particularly to realize that they all cried or still do cry and that it is okay to release their crying rather than trying to hold it in. It seems it leads to a release and a calming effect. Something that she learns from and then can refocus. Getting them back in the pool this winter will by key. I would like them to use the tinyest boats and work on tricks in the pool. I think that would add excitement back to things for them. Then lots of class I and II camping trips next season will help them grow in confidence and appreciate rivers.

Best wishes.
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Old 12-21-2006   #9
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 140
Some people are just plain scared of water. People like me, who love the water, cannot possibly imagine the level of fear involved. My husband, who was never a swimmer and doesn't especially like the water, absolutely loves to kayak. He's a solid class III boater, with a few IV's under his belt. Pretty bombproof roll. He accomplishes new things of his own accord, at his own pace, in his own time. I'm so proud of his accomplishments considering his fears. So, the love of kayaking won out over fear.

I know a teacher/coach that teaches a kayak roll class, but she's scared to death on rivers. Technically perfect roll in the pool, but I swear she has a panic attack the entire time down class II's. Its really weird.

Maciag, I'm sure glad you didn't quit girl!

Merry Christmas! (Santa already brought what we really want!!!!)

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Old 12-22-2006   #10
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 47
CW Mental Toughness

There are 2 mental toughness classes this year. The first one starts Jan. 21 and the 2nd one starts April 29. The class includes 3 2-hour pool sessions, 2 on-river days at CW training camp, and training camp fees. You have to be a CW member. If you're interested, go to

I think this class has helped a lot of people, but only if they WANTed the help. It hasn't helped those that haven't want to be there or are scared to death. I agree that if people are not having fun, they shouldn't be on the river.


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