|CASKA night at the UIC pool.|
An excellent recent article by Howard Meyerson in the Grand Rapids Press demonstrated the need for more general awareness of the connection between instruction and paddling safety. Meyerson reported about a novice paddler who purchased a 12-foot boat and set out from Glen Haven to South Manitou Island, unprepared in every way for the challenge of an open crossing in cold weather. His adventure ended in a Coast Guard helicopter rescue.
Stories like this vex sea kayak coaches because they are so familiar. We've all met plenty of people who don't see the need for instruction--people who have too much confidence in themselves and too little respect for the value of training. They get themselves in trouble and also endanger the people who have to rescue them. And they give paddlers a bad reputation.
By contrast, the 14 people who came to the pool for instruction earlier this week demonstrated a respect for the sport, an awareness of the risks, and a willingness to pay money to improve their skill and knowledge. It was a great fundraiser for the club, but also a morale booster for all of us who have spent time and money to become skilled paddlers and coaches, and who are committed to helping others paddle safely.