The Pillar Series – Creeking Leadership

We created the “Pillar Series” to go a little more in depth of why we created the clinics than just our course descriptions. Many times our classes are prompted by experiences or observations we have on the river, in our paddling culture, or suggested by our guests.

What’s with all of these names? That is a common question I seem to be receiving these days. And I must admit, they’re not your typical clinic names. The clinics are just as unique as the names that we are using and this one is no exception. Much of the focus for this class, in its second year of offering, is not just centered on advanced boating techniques but challenging our current paradigms of how we proceed downstream as well.

Having predictable and oft run rivers like the Green River and Little White in the United States has undoubtedly taken a lot of the unpredictability out of runs and therefore how we prepare our groups to go forth. Rivers are way more accessible than they used to be, to the point where you can take your (virtual) personal first descent on YouTube. Information is everywhere, and with it our scouting has accelerated and has become mostly individual. But there still isn’t anything quite like the real thing, and the team element cannot be under appreciated at a more advanced stage of kayaking.

Psychology still dictates a great deal of the quality of our experiences, and groups allow less time to form while finding themselves on sections of river where a group dynamic is pushed sooner than ever before. Many of the pioneers in the sport paddled with the same people over and over again and had years upon years of experience with their paddling buddies before moving on to class V. During that time, a group learns how to communicate with one another, identify and manage strengths and weaknesses, and have a way to test each other before it becomes time for the river to put you to the ultimate test.

 

It is imperative to not only have the hard skills but the soft skills as well.

 

I designed this course to ultimately give a physical push for class III-IV boaters both physically and mentally, all while still making folks understand that although advanced creek boating is tough, it is still attainable and negotiable. This course is ultimately for the folks who plan on making kayaking their life long recreation, still feeling pushed and free to explore the rivers of the world while avoiding injury or other setbacks.

  1. You can expect to be physically pushed with lots of hiking while carrying a kayak loaded with gear for both best and worst case scenarios, shore scouting on uneven terrain in challenging areas, and discussing and setting appropriate safety.
  2. Mentally, you will be pushed by working with a new group of folks with whom you may have never paddled before and working through the many cruxes of effective communication and teamwork. You may be pushed into various scenarios of tasks and performance not based on your comfort but more so out of necessity, convenience, or timing. You can also be potentially challenged on pushing through mental barriers of what you thought you were capable.
  3. All of this will occur in an environment that is conducive to learning and for the sake of learning what you are capable of as a leader and a member of a group. H2o Dreams takes off their guide hat for the two days and passes the responsibility to the group.

 

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