So now that we have announced the H2o Dreams 2014 programs, we have some questions to answer. Lydia did a nice job summarizing our new program offerings and I believe it is a schedule chock filled with excellent learning opportunities. With the demand and popularity of our creek and rescue programs from last year, we doubled the availability and variety for those as well.
The one program that I think deserves a bit more of an explanation and attention is our Tributaries Tour. Firstly, I must reiterate that H2o Dreams is as much an idea as it is a company offering educational programming. At the core of our mission is our hope to help cultivate strong communities that revere instruction and alternative education highly. So with that, what exactly is this “tributaries tour,” anyhow?
I am not offering the “Tour” as the magic bullet that will solve all of our current pitfalls, but my intention is to start a conversation.
It might be easier to begin by explaining what it is not. It is not us simply caravaning around and professing our knowledge onto other communities and acting as an authority on a subject. In my personal teaching experience, I have always known one thing to be constant and that is that I learn just as much from the people I teach as they do from me. There is a huge dose of humility that you have to take to continually remind yourself of this fact. It is understanding that you, just like the student, are just as vulnerable, although maybe in a different way. This levels the playing field and ensures that you never come across as too preachy as well as helping to put some ownership on the student to think critically.
That still really does not fully explain what this program is, although you can start to see the heart of the program. The one-way street of “this is how we do it, so you should, too,” needs to quickly become a thing of the past, and a new paradigm of student and community co-direction has to take place to usher in a growth within the sport. There is currently infrastructure in place to help this, but new concepts and a purge of dogmatic techniques also need to occur.
I believe that the second pitfall in our current educational paradigm is that it is largely cost prohibitive on the surface, although it has proven to be very cost effective in the long term by starting with a clean slate and not having to un-teach bad habits and re-teach good technique. I do not think that we highlight our accomplishments as well as we should with this but, by and large, people do not seek out professional instruction until bad habits have been formed or stigmatic behavior has set in, and the paddler may literally be ready to hang up the kayak gear and sell the kayak for good. For a lucky few, the school of hard knocks worked just fine, and this can be a great thing as ingenuity is a remarkable trait in talented kayakers. One caveat to that, though, is that I know many paddlers from the school of hard knocks who could pretty up their technique and, on the flip side, many pretty paddlers who could use a few hard knocks to toughen up.
So, enough of my preachy professing. I am not offering the “Tour” as the magic bullet that will solve all of our current pitfalls, but my intention is to start a conversation. Our goal, simply put, is to seek out instructors/leaders in other communities and work with them through a range of mini-clinics. We offer our successes, learn from yours, survey, and meet the communities, and then share on a national stage our discoveries so that everyone can learn and see what other folks are doing. This is clearly a combination of few ideas. However, the foundation of this program is to go directly to communities and work with them on their turf, see what they are doing, and then share it. By seeking paddlers out in their own backyards, working with local instructors to tap into the community, and offering a variety of clinics, workshops, and lectures over a week long period, I feel that we have a great opportunity to share a wealth of knowledge on a national platform…faster, and at a lower cost.
So now that we have put it out there, what strengths and weaknesses do you see a program like this having? Leave your comments below!
We will be seeking out 8-12 locations in our first year and we encourage community leaders to touch base with us now so you can get an event set up on our calendar. We offer anything from instructor development, skills workshops, lectures, and rescue classes, et al and at any length of time; we are also open to suggestions, requests, and creative alternatives. We do not seek out traditional timelines or curricula, as it is important to us to work with your communities based on YOUR time.