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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sometimes words are worth 1000 Pictures.

I spend a lot of my time on the water with people taking photos and video in hopes to share them around and get people excited about paddling, however last night was different. It was our last Wednesday Night Clinic of the season at Folsom Lake. The clouds were ominous and the wind was building. We had a medium size group of people, and everyone was at a different skill level. So I tried my best to work with everyone one on one. I really tried to do my best to meet them where they are at and give them a little something to work on in order to progress their skills. So some worked on rolling, some on edging, some on sculling, and then there was Ken. He is brand new to paddling, and is like a sponge when it comes to learning about kayaking. He has a few physical limitations but his gun-ho attitude makes up for his lack of flexibility. So last night he wanted to work on self rescues. So I started off by showing his a basic paddle float reentry. Then he tried and was able to hop back into his boat. After 15 minutes or so a man that was nervous about tipping over was trying anything and everything he could think of in order to swamp his boat and get back in. After about a hour of skills practice the wind had started to blow pretty hard and the waves were starting to build up off the point, so I decided to take the group out to practice boat control in the wind. (Secretly I wanted to catch some surf rides in my Illusion but don't tell them that:) So as we head out everyone jets off into the wind and waves except Ken and myself. Ken looks over at me, his eyes wide as saucers and says, "You are going to stay close right?" I reassure him and then we paddle off. After about 10 minutes of slogging into the wind I look over at Ken. His face was lit up like a kid on Christmas Morning. He didn't think he would be paddling in conditions like that for at least a year. Then the real fun began when I turned everyone around, drop their skegs and start paddling back to the launch. I had these simple instructions, "When you feel your bow drop down on the wave, paddle like hell and catch a ride." So everyone paddled off including Ken. After taking a few strokes Ken catches his a ride and zooms off. He first ever surf. For those of you remember the feeling of your first surf ride, you know the rush that comes along with it. So after that we pull back into the cove just in time to witness an amazing sunset. The perfect way to end our Wednesday Night Clinic series.

So after the clinic last night I was flying high on the feeling of a job well done. I always enjoy my time on the water teaching and paddling with friends, but when I get an email like this, it serves as a reminder that what I do for a job is having lasting impacts on peoples lives. For that Ken I'm so much more grateful to you than you will ever be of me. Thanks for the kind reminder of why I do what I do. Despite the economy, despite hours, despite the pay, I get to make a impact in peoples lives and that makes my job the best one in the world for me.

Please read on to hear the Email that Ken sent me about his time on the water with us.

Dan Arbuckle

Hi Dan,

You played a huge role in making a dream come true for me yesterday; I thank you so very much. I now own an adequate number of physical items to begin kayaking but, they would not really be any real value without the coaching you have provided by way of Penguin Paddlers. Me being one who is concerned about basic safety; wanting to be able to climb back into the boat unassisted, I now feel I’ve crossed the line where I can begin enjoying the type of kayaking I want to do. Then, after all the coaching, to have been guided out into the hard wind and rolling little waves of that huge lake was an experience that just brought it all together for me. I feel I’m ready to do this now in a way that is a step beyond just lazy meandering in warm, still water. Yeehah! Being out in the wind and waves at sunset with the spectacular cloud formations was so intensely beautiful. I’m alive again!

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