The pre-course began with the usual organization of campsites, equipment, instructors, car-pooling options, payment, menu, and the course intinary/schedule.
Flatwater ABCD skills were honed to near perfection:
Monday: tandem skills, lesson planning, learning styles, theory 1, 2, 3, 4
Tuesday: tandem skills, intro to solo, tandem lessons, theory 4, 5, 6, 7
Wednesday: solo with stopping, windy weather paddling, theory
Thursday: solo with landings, solo lessons
Friday: practice/evaluations, canoe dance, final exam
Each morning we were on the water at 7 am sharp, and with the usual breaks, we were off the water at 9 pm each night. By mid-week we learned about muscles we could never have imagined owning, or rather, pains we could never had imagined, but it was through a sense of camaraderie that we kept one another going and going until each one of us made the grade as certified Flatwater Instructors.
The entire course was held at Silent Lake Provincial Park, a wilderness park located 80 kms north of Peterborough, Ontario. The lake held true to its name, except for a mid-week wind storm that caught us all by surprise, however we all made it back and the event was referred to regularly as a reference to serious problems that come up without warning.
We were fortunate to have three instructors: Phil, Alan, and Jennifer, all of whom came from various backgrounds and worked hard to bring us students up to the level that is required for Instructors. There was ample time for one-on-one instruction, especially when a student was struggling with a certain move or stroke.
At the onset of the course, Phil, the lead instructor, warned us he was going to take us past the “limit” of the course requirements, and settle us back down to the level needed for a pass. He did not waver from this announcement for a minute. Many of us, mid-week, had thoughts we might not make the grade; the going was extremely tough and tiresome, however the end result was paid; we worked hard, studied hard, and as a result, we are all registered and certified: ORCA Flatwater Canoe Instructors.
Far beyond the certification and the acquiring of the specific skills, we also developed a keen sense of team work and friendship during this grueling week-long course. When one of us fell short, others were quickly there to pick us up and get us back on track.
It is a time I shall never forget, the hard work, the team work, the amazing sense of camaraderie, and the ever-present forbearance of the three instructors who have the patience of Job.
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