May 29, 2009

Teaching to paddle.

When I was younger my father taught me how to canoe. My father is far from a perfectionist, but he always held to the motto that if you are going to do something, do it right. While I was learning from him, if I made any mistakes, I would hear about it until I did it right at least a dozen times in a row. Fortunately for me, I picked up canoeing like a fish to swimming.

As I got older and joined the Boy Scouts I went on to earn my Canoeing merit badge. The leader that taught it was the Scout Master of our troop. It was going to be my father, but since I signed up for it, my dad backed down and Mr. P stepped up. There were some unwritten rules in my troop. (That I think all troops should have) The first is that if at all possible a parent will not sign off for a son on any advancements. The second was under no circumstances would they discourage a boy from trying to learn something they are interested in. In my case, my father was the strong canoeist, but since I wanted to earn that merit badge and Mr. P. was also certified to teach it, then they would have him do it.

Now being at the ripe olí age of 11, and having been canoeing for a couple of years under my fatherís tutelage, I was more in the classes as a formality. I ended up pissing off Mr. P a couple of times because as heís trying to teach stuff, Iím doing it already. He wasnít really mad, just more annoyed by the fact that I was doing too good of a job for ďa rookieĒ. Of course he did get pissed when I corrected him a couple of times. That year for summer camp our troop went to the Northwoods for a canoeing trip. My father and I were partners.

My dad still tells people with pride that after that trip they would never let him and me in the same canoe again unless they weighed us down with extra weight and passengers. We would get a rhythm going and out pace everyone else. I even remember Mr. P making a comment along the lines of, ďI should have known not to let you two go together after the merit badge lessons.Ē

A year later they had another canoeing class. My father couldnít make it, so Mr. P ended up instructing it again. He needed an assistant, and after the previous year he asked me to help him with the boys. The year after that they got me certified to teach the canoeing merit badge and from the age of 13 through 18 I taught numerous kids the art of canoeing. I taught kids that didnít have the first clue about boats and canoes and turned them into really strong canoeists.

I donít canoe anywhere near as much as I once did. In fact before last year's canoe trip it had been almost 8 years since the last time I had set foot in a canoe. Let me tell you, canoeing is like riding a bike. Once you learn to do it, youíll never forget. As soon as I got back into the canoe, it was like a flood gate opened and all the stuff I thought I had forgotten came back, including the urge to paddle.

The reason Iím telling you all of this is because tomorrow, if the weather holds out, Iím taking the family canoeing. We are going to the local State Park and I have to teach Ktreva and Clone canoeing basics. The thing is that in years past when I taught kids, they werenít my family. This time it is. I just hope Iím a bit more patient then my father. I also hope that Ktreva and Clone donít flip the canoe on me. But just so you know, I am planning on getting wet. Iím bringing out the Boy Scout motto here, ďBe Prepared.Ē So swimsuits and sandals tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Posted by Contagion in Family Life at May 29, 2009 06:26 PM | TrackBack

What's hard about canoeing?

Left, right, left, right... try not to drip on the other people in the canoe when you switch sides... guy in the back steers.

Posted by: Harvey at June 5, 2009 11:33 PM