We were struck by the fact that all of the respondents mentioned their frustration at having an unreliable roll and acknowledged their need for instruction, but none was interested in signing up for an inexpensive, three-session course.
What is it about "free" that induces people to spend time and gas, while even a modest fee discourages them? And more importantly, why do so many people think that paddling instruction should be free?
We can hardly begin to calculate what we've spent over the years on training and certifications, let alone the cost of the gear and travel that enabled us to develop as coaches and paddlers. We've put a lot of time and money into kayaking, and we plan to spend more, because we value the sport and what it has given us. All the coaches we respect most, including our mentors, are also committed to ongoing training.
Obviously, we aren't in this for the money. Coaching is tremendously rewarding in other ways. We get to introduce people to a sport we love, figure out how to motivate and coach them, and watch them progress. We get to dream up new games and activities, explore new ideas and techniques, and share what we learn with others. Like any passion, coaching becomes a microcosm and metaphor for everything else in our lives. So it's baffling when others don't see its value.
To be fair, we don't have any trouble filling our courses, and the people who do enroll demonstrate their appreciation for paid instruction. But what about all the people who publicly state their desire to improve but won't pay for lessons? Why do they think instruction should be free?