A Letter from the Director, Chris Wing

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The Emotional: Part I

Hey all,

I buried myself in work this year. I didn’t like that… I think I’ll get back to what it is I like. Don’t get me wrong, I love working. I really do. I love pouring my energy into projects, work with others, leading and mentoring, and letting the creative juices spill out on to my screen, but this shit isn’t sustainable. What I love more is teaching. I am a practitioner way more than I am a manager. I feel lighter and better after doing it as it makes the best version of myself.

Fortunately, for the first time in a long time, I feel good about the sustainability of what we have built and what I subsequently present to you all now. This has been my life’s work. What you see in our website represents a program that has been obsessed over, fought for, changed, tweaked, adapted, survived, and distilled in to the program we now offer moving into the 2020 season.

I love pouring my energy into projects, work with others, leading and mentoring, and letting the creative juices spill out on to my screen, but this shit isn’t sustainable.

Taking into account Team feedback and effecting change that not only makes the business run smoother and safer, but easier for them, too, is no simple task. It takes far greater time to commit when you start to involve more people than yourself; days of making decisions on your own, then, are long past but represent the roots of H2o Dreams. I am convinced that the core of our team is established and simply one of the most dedicated groups in the outdoor industry. We all strive to be better every day and it shows in the work that we do. Your experience here with us IS unique. Our instructors are students of the craft… we expect that of them.

I can’t understate how important a good team is to make something like this work well. As we have grown in the past couple of years, that couldn’t be more obvious. Lydia is the person who has to put up with my crap on a daily basis and not get paid for it. She’s the only one that will ever have my heart more than this work. I respect her so much for her daily sacrifices, persistent work, and absolute commitment to personal excellence. My wife and partner in everything is a boss. We make all of these decisions together.

Lastly, a quick but by no means any less gravitous thank you to the H2o Dreams instructor team for their commitment and desire to peek into this sometimes punishing world that river instruction is and our take on it. We put our bodies through hell, extend our empathy, listen with intent, and really focus our personal energy in to the students… many times while forgetting to drink an ounce of water 😉 Your work will never be lost on me as I intend to be by your side, continuing to teach and learn together. Thank you.

Without further ado, I present our 2020 programming.

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The Promotional: Part II

What we really have wanted to do was create a program that a student truly can go start to finish without having to always work in the private instruction realm. One of the sole detriments of private instruction is the question of how to reintegrate what you learned back into a group context, in short how do we take what we learned from class and apply it to every day paddling. I think it’s safe to say we are one of the most focused groups of teachers on this particular pillar of paddler competency, relatability.

If there is a major skill deficiency in our general paddling public, it’s this. We don’t work well together at our recreational level. Folks don’t have a common language anymore, or worse, didn’t know one existed as they enter paddling class III. Etiquette and communication were always the most stressed components of my river experiences when I started paddling in 2000, not even 20 years ago. Something has changed, and these are qualities we need to embrace wholly as a community again. I think it’s important to get students in to classroom experiences, but many students never learn some of the most critical functions of groups in these classes industry wide. I charge all educators to get back to this habit and get creative and fun with it.

In short, that’s why we do so many group classes. It has nothing to do with trying to rake in cash. Believe me, we haven’t made a lot of money on them. Group classes are important for folks to work with complete strangers and develop those soft-skills. We are among the best at providing these group experiences. We storm through those experiences together and truly discuss what make groups fail or succeed. On the flip side, we also have never canceled a class due to low enrollment. We always run the class, even if it’s a single student. You gave us your time, we will give you ours.

So what did we change? I know I am long winded…

I charge all educators to get back to this habit and get creative and fun with it.

We have built a much more robust fundamentals to intermediate program. We have always thrived in strong intermediate to advanced programming, but the real service that is lacking in our world has been beginner and intermediate programs. They are hard to fill, have several barriers to overcome, and are being introduced to an audience that doesn’t really understand why they need them. In addition to the classes themselves, we are committed to the development of supplemental course materials to reinforce the practical portion of the course. We developed a rescue manual many years ago now that has gone along with all of our rescue courses. In addition, we have alumni Facebook group to allow for future access and discussion. We plan to integrate a similar blueprint across the board.

We know we offer a solid program but it takes you to put the good word out on our behalf. We never take this for granted.

We also now offer packages for our students who are looking to get on a program with us in 2020. Take a look through the packages we do offer and if you don’t see what you need feel free to contact us at any point.

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We added some much needed organization to our website to help you all navigate our complete catalog. You will see these keys strategically placed throughout our course catalog. We have refined and paired down some courses that were either irrelevant or inefficient and may even have renamed some of your favorites.

One of the coolest things we added was a Self-Assessment Tool to point you in the right direction by answering a few critical skill related questions.

This is by no means to take the personality out of your course placement, on the contrary. The questions, we feel, are relevant and your results are going to be based on how honest you are with yourself. It’s only a useful tool if used as intended. We also added course identification by color/level to help you navigate the whole catalog.

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Our biggest area of growth we experienced in 2019 was undoubtedly our Youth Program. We are going all in again on this program. Every one of our instructors has some impact on this program this past year. We have expanded these course offerings, again refined where inefficient, and expanded where appropriate. One of the most exciting offerings we will have this year is our Youth Expedition where campers will spend the whole duration camping alongside some of our favorite streams in the Southeast.

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[row] [col width=”1/2″] We undoubtedly will have some sneaky tricks and impromptu programming for our 2020 season. I will be making a return to the Green Race for my own personal goals and one of the skill focuses I would like to develop for future programming is competitive training and coaching. Stay tuned for those kinds of course offerings throughout the 2020 season. We cannot do any of this without the folks who choose us as mentors and teachers. I want to give a wholehearted thank you to those students from years past and especially the folks who have stuck with us over the years and promote our programming. We look forward to serving you all in the 2020 season.


Chris Wing
H2o Dreams Program Director

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2 thoughts on “A Letter from the Director, Chris Wing”

  1. I often see your group classes on the LG. I watch the attention given to each My whitewater experience began with Foothills RP progression. Great program for learning and evolving from Class II to IV I amend that by saying for a lot of paddlers but not all. In my case I felt rushed and a bit pulled down the river by peer pressure. I think really emphasizing the beginner to intermediate is a good thing. I hope to join one of your classes in the Spring

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