If you watch the media reports on encounters of humans and nature, you would quickly think that everybody who camps in the forest or goes swimming in the ocean is in very real danger of getting attacked by a bear or shark. As adults, we can rationally figure out that this likely won't happen to you but for kids, it can easily manifest into real phobia. UnderwaterTimes.com has just published a fantastic article about how to help children deal with their fears of nature and the outdoors and provides some really cool tips and rules on talking to kids about nature. Some basic rules that they suggest are: Don't lie about the actual risks or dangers. Never tell children bears and sharks are not dangerous. Don't use this fear to correct other areas of bad behavior. An example would be telling your child "if you do not do what I told you, I will call a bear to come out of the woods and tell him to eat you". Yes, many parents actually do different variations of this, most popular one being "I'll get that policeman to arrest you". Don't further reduce their self-esteem. They are already feeling guilt and/or embarrassment because of their fear so don't make things worse. If as a parent you are unable to help your child, don't despair or give up, seek professional help. Call a licensed child psychologist and schedule an appointment for both you and your child. All of this got me thinking about some of the fears that we come up against as paddling instructors. It's my experience is that a huge number of people are absolutely terrified of the water and it can really get in the way of their learning. I'm interested in what suggestions you might have to give other instructors to help deal with students who come to a canoe or kayak lesson but are still terrified of water. I'm interested in tips for either kids or adults. I will get the ball rolling. For me dealing with a student who is very scared, it is important that…
Arthur W. Gamson developed seven principles to effective teaching which have been among the most influential ideas of the past twenty years in relation to teaching theory. It seems pretty straight forward but if we remembered to embrace them, we would be much more effective teachers. Encourage instructor/student contact Encourage cooperation among students Encourage active learning Give prompt feedback Emphasize time on task Communicate high expectations Respect diverse talents and ways of learning Source: Chickering, Arthur W. Gamson, Zelda F.(1987) Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.  
The latest issue the Paddle Canada instructor newsletter "Current Strokes" just got emailed to everybody. A couple of interesting things are being developed: Pauline Halstead from Paddles and Boots is looking to get form a committee to look at possibility developing a national adaptive paddling program. If you are interested in getting involved, contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I think that it is a great idea. Paddle Canada used to have an adaptive paddling program way, way back in the mid 80's and I'm glad to see that the wheels are starting to turn to roll it out again. They made some changes with their insurance company so that people who aren't Canadian citizens can now become instructors. I can't believe that something like this was ever on the books to start with and I know that a couple of people got caught in the loop hole. Now anybody can teach PC programs as long as it is on Canadian Soil. The next step? Get the crazy rule of teaching only in Canada adjusted. Oh yes, the have designed new cert badges for 2008. They are rectangle shape to fit in the logo in the middle. They look good but with the text going sideways, I bet there will be a lot of people sewing their cert on their bathing suit incorrectly.
No, we aren't offering any trips, yet. But we are looking for a group of people who want to take part in being a Guinea pig for a teaching activity that we have been working on over the past while. The activity centers around gear choices for a sea kayaking expedition that you and your buddies are planning. There is only so much room in the container ship so not all your desired gear can go. Once you make the necessary cuts to the gear list, there are a couple of discussion questions that you can think about. It takes about 15 minutes but gear junkies could easily fiddle with it for an hour like we did in the local coffee shop. If you are interested in taking part in this ground breaking activity (how is that for overselling!), send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will send out a copy for your comments. Once it is all done and fixed up, we will upload it to the teaching resources section for anybody to grab later and work into their lessons. Look for an advanced navigation/risk management assignment and a bail-out kit assignment to roll out in the next couple of weeks.
Evan Spinny gathering up his class. Ontario Instructors have long been aware of the long and ongoing spat between the National Certifying body, Paddle Canada and its provincial counterpart, the Ontario Recreational Canoe & Kayak Association (ORCKA). Like most arguments, it focuses on territory and money. Here is the two sentence summery on the long standing (and ugly) dispute. Paddle Canada doesn't feel that it has been fairly compensated for the national program that is run and administrated locally by ORCKA. ORCKA (along with several other provincial Associations) feels that they have been pushed away from the decision table by when PC voted to streamline it governance structure this past fall. ORCKA has decided to stop offering the National program and offer its own Provincial program instead. They already have a strong and well established canoeing program so it's easy to implement. Over the past 4 months though, there have been a lot of rumors and questions around ORCKA developing its own sea and white water kayaking program.
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