Outdoor New England

The Surprising Truth

WhitewaterMarty ParichandComment

This past weekend, I participated in an ACA Certification Course on the Winnipesaukee River. The outing clubs of both the University of Vermont and the University of Massachusetts were well represented with solid boaters.

The course was taught by Dave Su, accomplished whitewater aficionado and experienced teacher. His educational impact on the New England community is measured in the tens of thousands and with good reason.

It was nothing short of an eye opening experience. The course's objective is to teach paddlers to become ACA Instructors. The curriculum includes, but is not limited to, proper technique on paddling maneuvers, proper safety considerations, rescue performance, logistics, and the dreaded discussions on liability or risk. However, that is only a piece of it. If you want to be an ACA instructor certified by Dave Su... You have to be a terrific teacher.

The class had to teach wordlessly (yes wordlessly), using analogies, proper demonstration, appropriate activities (that are not boring and mundane) and develop an ability to recognize an individual's learning style. I felt myself learning about group management, risk management, safety, communication and teaching tactics tailored to the different students. Dave groomed the class to be attentive to each student and identify both the things that were occurring and not occurring.

The surprising truth is...

I took a whitewater course, where I learned educating and communicating techniques and pitfalls that have a real world application to any educator or person who collaborates within a team framework. This seemed to catch me off guard. I came expecting to learn paddling, but I left with tools to support almost all interactions I have with people.

I'm grateful to have been involved in such a positive class with such an experienced teacher (notice I didn't say paddler, but he is pretty good at that too).