The Symposium Season Starts - Off to Palmer Fest

Thursday, 07 May 2009
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I'm off this weekend to Palmer Fest up in Palmers Rapids, Ontario. As you may know, for the first time, Palmer Fest expanded to two weekends. The first weekend is focused on canoeing and sea kayaking while the second is for the cool whitewater kids.

I have been asked to lead a bunch of different clinics including kayak rescues, navigation and Greenland style paddling. Since this is the first time that I have taught since the ice left the rivers, I had to bone up and dust off my lesson plans this past week.

To be honest, I always get a little nervous before these events. Anybody who has ever taught at a paddling symposium will know that you often get a huge range of skill levels at every session. That's perfectly ok as the point of these events is to get a whole pile of people together and learn from one another.

Navigation always makes me the most nervous as it's so technical. It isn't that I don't know what I'm talking about; it's just that I have to always go back over the fundamentals just to make sure that I got everything correct.

My own observation over the years is that for some reason, navigation always gets that one guy in the crowd who likes to play the, "I know more then the teacher game." It's no big deal as it always forces me to be on my game.

With that in mind; I'm at home panicking last night asking myself questions in higher and faster tones like, How do I read a topo? What does the blue on a chart mean? How can I tell the front of a canoe from the back? Why do I get wet when I fall in the water? And so on. I had to grab for my trusty paper sack and breath deep just to calm down...

I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's supposed to rain the whole time and there is even a potential frost warning. Good times. At least I have my Kokatat Dry Suit ready to go for that rescue session first thing Saturday morning.

The other big plus for the location is that there is some really good whitewater at the location. The washout at the bottom is really deep with little rocks so I'm looking forward to getting in there with my long boat and messing it up. Maybe a little surfing and lots of screaming...




David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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