Friday, July 27, 2007

They Both Got Classes
Nancy at the helm in Door County
Bottom line, most folks sign up for a kayak symposium to squeeze as much learning as possible into a weekend. Some have never paddled anything in their life while others are looking to hit that first roll (frequently taught poorly...but I digress) or further their rescue skills. I think it is fair to say that both of the symposiums offered the same classes, but they did it quite differently (btw, see Derrick's comprehensive comment on yesterday's blog).
It is worth a mention that both offered on shore classes with Door County holding brown bag lunch conferences under the tent just off the beach. GM classes were a block or two inland, but indoors.
Door county allowed participants to sign up for classes on line before the weekend. Sure, some things did change at the last minute and there were some no shows, but it did allow for a sensible distribution of instructors.

Gran Marais, on the other hand, announced the classes, assigned them to a number on the beach where the instructor(s) waited,., Who ever (sometimes no one) showed up...that was the class. I didn't care for it, and I don't think it worked. One day, I never ended up teaching in the class to which I had been assigned because of the lack of students. JB was one of three instructors who, as it turned out, was assigned to teach one student. I did enjoy teaching 3 folks to roll, however, it was not part of any class as they had approached me on the beach. Another thing. I believe there were too many instructors at Grand Marais (there goes my invite back...but I digress...again). I did make myself useful teaching some rolling to individuals and helping a few folks left behind when their classes took off.Door Co. launch site
Door Co. Launch depth
Time: Door County classes were, for the most part, a half or full day. You, for instance, could take the fundamentals class and learn all that stuff we got in that one day lesson we took at the beginning of our glorious careers. At GM, however, the same material was divided into lessons of just over an hour so there was a rescue one, two and three. This was also true of strokes. Now, I suppose, this allowed a student to just take the class he or she really needed. Just remember, the short time allotted to these sessions included gathering on the beach, getting out there, doing the lesson thing and returning. The one strokes class I "assisted" in left virtually no time for the students to practice what they had just been shown before the lead instructor was herding them back to learn the next step. I did not see much progress in that class. I did see glazed-over eyes.

Finally, Door County's class names were pretty much what you would expect. Gran Marais, on the other hand, had names such as MODERN which was decipherable (to me) only after reading the booklet issued to us all.

This round goes to Door county for 1, a good selection of classes for all levels, 2, pre-sign up ability, 3, adequate time to cover the material and practice it and 4, sensible use of instructor:student ratios.
Other than what I said about traveling to trips, I cannot comment further as I did none at GM.
Time to help daughter #2 move to Chicago. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice. Back Monday.

Paddle safe...

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