Friday, June 27, 2008

Madawaska musings

The sign at the entrance to Madawaska Kanu Center.

We chose to enroll the kids in a whitewater course at Madawaska for several reasons: It's the oldest whitewater school in Canada (now in its 38th year), closer than Nantahala (which we also considered), in a beautiful location, and offers an enticing variety of programs, including family weeks. The two of us chose not to participate this year because we're saving up for some sea kayak training this fall, but the kids were eager to gain more whitewater skills and we were happy to camp on the grounds and spend our days padding local lakes.
The facility is lovely. Modeled after German ski clubs, it includes a rustic lodge where meals are served and people hang out in the evenings reading kayaking books and magazines from the well-stocked shelves; comfortable sleeping quarters; hot showers and a sauna.

The main building, with the office and boutique at the left and the dining hall and lodge to the right.

Hanging out in the evening, talking and playing games.

The food is excellent, and the boutique sells a nice range of paddling clothing and gear. The Madawaksa River is just across the street.
This year, like last year, we were struck by the warm, encouraging atmosphere. The tone is certainly set by the owners and the instructors, who don't make a big point of touting their considerable training and experience and instead emphasize their excitement about teaching. They inspire their classes with lots of humor and considerable humility (not to mention lots of whitewater lingo, which is totally tubular).

Hannah with JT and Alex, two of the "tubular" instructors.

We felt that Hannah, Jeremy and all the students kids received instruction appropriate to their skills and temperaments. That's the hallmark of excellent teaching in any subject area, and a particular strength in outdoor education.

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