As an instructor I hear it all the time “my boy/girl friend taught me how to paddle, and . . . “:
A. Scared the “living daylights” out of me, so I am really, really scared of kayaking now.
B. Pushed me too hard and too soon for my comfort level.
C. Has no idea how to teach me to help me understand better.
D. We broke up.
I was taught how to whitewater kayak by my husband, Nate, and his dad (I had no idea this sport even existed before I saw them float down the river). The effect of learning to paddle from them had the opposite outcome compared to most I hear about.
Here are a few ways I recommend for those of you who are brave enough to step out and teach your boy/girl friend how to kayak:
• Fun is #1 priority. Don’t build fear by emphasizing “Don’t do this (or Don’t do that) or else this bad thing will happen to you”. Instead instill confidence and a good time by emphasizing the positives.
• Lighten up. Don’t always be THE TEACHER. Show a few tips, drills, skills, etc but then just paddle and hang out. If there are questions he/she will approach you and ask. It’s fun to learn things as a beginner, but it’s also fun to just paddle and experience things for yourself AND see YOU having fun, too!
• Buy him/her gear so they have good experiences on the water. For example, Nate bought me a drysuit first because he knew if I was cold, I wouldn’t have any fun. He in the meantime continued to wear a wetsuit and a drytop. This is a BIG thumbs up!!!!!
• Take yourself out of the spotlight. Teaching your significant isn’t about YOU, it’s about them. You need a good balance between being an effective teacher and goofing around doing your own thing. But, leave your showboating for the right time.
• Work together to create a set of drills to work on and perfect before stepping on to the next level. Make sure BOTH parties feel good about ‘stepping up’. The experienced boater MAY know the beginner is capable, but ‘success is the belief in oneself’.
• When all else fails and the process is getting too challenging, buy a few sessions with a professional instructor. This will get him/her on the water with you a lot quicker.
Remember . . . Kayaking is supposed to be FUN. If this holds it’s place as a top priority, then your new, favorite boating partner will be your significant other for the rest of your life ☺