Monday, July 5, 2010

Looking backward, looking forward

   Some of our favorite Maryland students: Fabian, Betty Lou and Alicia.

   One of the pleasures of coaching is working with students who might never cross paths anywhere else. While we were at Adventure Crafters, one class included a neuroscientist, a truck driver, a leadership consultant, an at-home mom, a merchant marine engineer, a title company owner and a manager of mergers and acquisitions. They were a particularly lovely group of people--something we credit to co-owner Robert Schrack, who tends to attract people who appreciate skillful instruction paired with a low-key attitude. Several of them were students we knew from previous visits, who came out specifically to work with us. It was a pleasure to see how much more skillful they had become since last year.

 David crosses the finish line in the final-day rodeo using Mike's boat and paddle.

   This coming together of diverse people isn't unique to Adventure Crafters. At Geneva Kayak Center, we've taught gym teachers, auto mechanics, pilates instructors, airplace pilots, electricians, software developers, elementary school principals, insurance salesmen, and plenty of people who never mention what they do when they aren't in our classes. Sometimes we see direct connections between their workplace orientation and the way they learn; sometimes we don't.
   But in our highly stratified society, where people tend to socialize with others who share their values and their rung on the socioeconomic ladder, it's refreshing to watch everyone on the same playing field, working together to learn something new to all of them.
    They always bring something new to us, too. That's actually the secret benefit of teaching: students ask questions that make you reassess what you know and what you do, and in the process make you a better coach for the students who follow them. And because some of the students at Adventure Crafters come back for more instruction every year and do a considerable amount of paddling and training between visits, they challenge us to come up with a weekend of new classes appropriate to higher-level students.

 Our happy band of full-moon paddlers, long before sunset. 

The same group a few hours later.

     We truly appreciate the opportunity to work with these committed students year after year. They inspire us to work on our coaching skills so we'll continue to have something to offer.

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