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One star assessment

Last night was the final session of a three week beginners course on Shadwell Basin. Despite the return to GMT and the first really cold evening of the autumn we had an undiminished group of eight enthusiastic paddlers.

We spent an hour and a half working through the one star award requirements including some extra work on low braces and stern rudders. Everyone did well and demonstrated all the strokes with increased confidence from last week, although some are still having difficulty paddling a straight course. I find this one of the most difficult things to help people with but did have some success by getting them to stop looking at their paddles and simply look where they are going.

The aim of the one star test is to encourage beginners in the sport and the aim of our club, in running introductory courses, is that people enjoy themselves enough that they want to come back and join us but I find the BCU's inclusion of 'theory' questions patronising rather than encouraging. I would be embarrassed to ask people some of the sample questions like "On finding litter what should you do?". FFS.

That said, I think it is worthwhile to stop at the end of the practical session and talk, touching on the different aspects of kayaking and canoeing, the BCU, the access issue and raising safety awareness. Not surprisingly, people always seem keen to chat about a new hobby anyway and I find it much more encouraging when they ask me intelligent questions!