Hear from Paul, who has been delivering the Paddle Explore Award at Tittesworth Water Sports Centre.
Running the NEW Explore Award has been an exciting challenge, particularly when there are a variety of craft types. At first, it was a challenge when performing a session from one craft to three other types of craft which required a little more thinking when instructing. I think we all clearly benefit from being multi craft coaches. The less prescriptive nature of the Explore Award has definitely allowed for greater tailoring for the candidates, making it more personal.
There are a variety of reasons why people choose to do the NEW Paddle Explore Award…
Sarah and Tim came to us as they were going on a cruise to Greenland. As part of the trip, they were going to paddle the Fjords with an Instructor but wanted to be proficient so they could enjoy the experience more. Luke and his dad wanted to start going on adventures. Gary wanted to set up a local experience on his canals for young people, the start of his coaching journey.
At Tittesworth Water Sports Centre, we also have a lot of regular recreational paddlers who would like to explore the full 76 hectares of the reservoir but have no prior experience in paddling unsupervised and being fully self-supported. The Explore Award enables them to do this.
The award has been really well received…
Most candidates have found the wide breadth of instruction and more expanded guidance very useful to their own needs. Examples include the use of the environment to assist with paddling (considering wind); basic safe towing for tired youngsters; equipment for trips and journeys; weather and group management. I think most were surprised to get instruction on these elements when they just thought they would be learning to paddle efficiently.
I went to a club and they couldn’t help me go in a straight line. You have explained and broke it down to identify the habits which were causing the problems and changed them to make me efficient.
The level of experience participants have been coming with has been challenging. We have had absolute beginners, arriving as a first time experience, to those who have paddled the Devizes to Westminster and were quite proficient.
You were very tolerant and accepting of the fact that we all had wide ranging abilities. You were very supportive, adapting to our own physical (arthritis) needs.
At the end of the course, those who have not met the Explore Award standard have been certificated with an alternative award, such as the Start or Discover Award, and an action plan created with the participant.
As a team, we have met expectations and on most occasions exceeded them. With comments such as:>
You covered loads more than we ever expected, it was great.
We look to personalise the award for each of our paddlers…
Sarah and Tim came to us prior to their Greenland paddle experience. Our main centre fleet are general kayaks. However, we we’re able to provide access to longer touring boats and a sea boat. This would give more relevant of what to expect on their Greenland trip.
Laura and Stefan came to the centre for the Discover Award. They returned shortly after to complete their Explore Award. We could have stayed on the reservoir and covered the course content but as they had expressed an interest in journeying, the day was spent on the local river and canals and they had a great day, dodging narrow boats and loads of herons.
Laura made an interesting observation as to why she chose us as a centre.
It was clear the course content was covered in a day and tailored to our needs. There was additional regular course dates advertised if necessary, so I chose Tittesworth Water Sports.
Find out more about the Paddle Explore Award here.