Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coordinator Training

First a warning: This post is going to end with a rant about internal club politics. I'll try to clearly indicate the switch, so the uninterested can skip it.
Today was the annual RIC/KA Sea Kayaking Coordinator Training/Reward course. This annual event is run by Carl Ladd and offered to people who have volunteered to help out the club by coordinating trips. A group of the more experienced RIC/KA paddlers (TM, OB, PH, CC, BH, JS, CMO, KB) and one newer paddler (RC), spent the day playing off of Sakonnet Point. Carl decided to run the class as a loose workshop. The conditions were pretty tame.
Before lunch we did a little playing in the rocks. In between play sessions, Carl gave us pointers on how to coordinate the group. The tip that sticks out in my mind was about rescuing paddlers in the rocks. Don't do it. Have the victim push their kayak out and swim away from the rocks. The chances of the rescue kayak injuring the victim is high. The chances of the rescuer becoming a victim is also high.
During lunch we talked about how to organize a group to avoid traffic jams in the rocks. We also discussed the proper etiquette in the surf zone.
After lunch we did a little surfing. We even got to practice rescues in the surf zone.
Overall it was a fun day on the water. We also got a few good tips on how to manage groups.
(Here comes the rant) While this yearly session is fun, I don't think it really maximizes the club resources:

  • It happens too late in the season. At this point in the season most of the group trips are over. We are not going to really practice things now that the water is cooling off. If the course happened early in the season we could use the skills and tips over the course of the season. We could even have a practice session or two.
  • The participants are hand picked. It doesn't really help bring paddlers through the ranks.
  • The open workshop format doesn't offer enough structure or situational challenges. Carl's tips are excellent, but it would be great to run through a number of situational challenges to experience first hand what can go wrong on a group trip.
I'd like to see a leadership/coordinator workshop at the beginning of the season. It would have a limited number of slots that any member of the club could take. Since, the number of openings would be limited, preference would have to be given to paddlers who agreed to lead at least one trip or have helped out on trips in the past. The course itself would consist of two parts: a classroom session where some navigation and basic leadership skills would be discussed and an on-water session where each member of the class gets to lead part of a trip and different scenarios are thrown at the class. I guess it would be a day and a half.


  1. I think this particular training should be targeted to two particular groups in two very different ways. The newer, up-and-comers should be given group leadership/follower training as it now exists. This should be available to active trip participants, whether or not they have led any trips. Our experienced, key leaders should be incouraged to pursue advanced ACA/BCU , leadership training and wilderness first aid training for the benefit of all trip participants.

  2. I left the previous comment.