Saturday, May 16, 2015

Get assessed

Kayakers: want to be a star?

 Most of you paddlers know that there is a BCU (British Canoe Union) and an ACA (American Canoe Association) each of which certifies instructors at various levels (1-5). Most of you also seem to know that the BCU offers classes and assessments to award(non instructor) paddlers a star value that indicates their level of proficiency as a paddler. So, when someone says "I am a 3-star paddler," you know that the BCU system has validated their competency at the criteria for that level.

What fewer of you seem to realize is that a parallel system exists within the ACA paradigm. That is, an ACA certified instructor can evaluate a paddler and award them a skills assessment award at some level up to and including the instructors level of certification. For example, one could go on the ACA site, download the skills required of (for example) a level 2 paddler. When ready, an instructor with a level 2 (or higher) certification can put you through the paces and, if you pass, award you a level 2 assessment award. It does require that you are or become a member of the ACA.

It would be nice (I believe) if more paddlers had a realistic assessment of their skills. If they fall short in any area, the testing instructor notes that and the paddler knows where to emphasize their practice. 

Go ahead and check out the ACA site and the requirements for skill assessments and see where you think you are on the skill ladder. Then, find a qualified instructor and test out. Best of worlds and you end up with bragging rights. Worst case scenario and you know exactly what you need to work on. 

Paddle safe...


Phil Walton said...

excellent write-up! Indeed many have an over-estimation of their own skills, and this is one way to find our the surety of those skills.

Peggy O said...

I couldn't agree more. I showed up at the Windy City Symposium in 2009, planning on doing a BCU 3 star assessment. I could "do" all of the skills on the syllabus, but it quickly became apparent that none of us at that assessment had mastered the skills required. The assessment gave me a clear picture of what I needed to work on.

Fast forward a few years and I showed up for a 4 star assessment. Once again, I could "do" all of the skills. But many of the leadership skills were still at the "conscious competence" stage. You can perform one or two "conscious competence" skills for a while, but not several, and not for an extended period of time. Little mistakes started popping up, and it became clear that I needed more experience in a range of environments and conditions using these skills. (Not that we ever stop learning from the ocean.)

Assessments, whether ACA or BCU, are great checkpoints to see where you are and where you can improve over a broad range of skills.