Why paddle: For the Friends, the Scenery, or for the challenge?

Why paddle: The Social, the Scenery, or for the challenge? Find the right friends… By Kent Ford

There is truly a world of paddling options to be had… so narrowing down your motivations helps insure that every trip you go on will be a success. Imagine this… a friend calls offering an opportunity to go on your first paddling trip. It is supposed to be a mild sea kayaking trip. But all you have seen about kayaking lately is whitewater, and the automobile advertisements with testosterone overdosed whako waterfall jumpers, and magazine photos of similarly crazy stunts. Your media influenced image of the sport excites the adrenaline seeking part of you, but the saner side leans you towards caution. How do you know if the trip matches your interests?

The Plan

The paddling trips I enjoy most have clearly stated goals, so it is easier to determine that the trip is right for me. My ideal is when the plan for the trip is declared up front in the invitation: “we are going out on an easy tour, where our number one goal is to get outdoors with some friends, and get some fresh air in a beautiful place. “ This sort of definition of challenge-social-scenic goals puts me in a comfort zone for the best possible day. Skill Building Awareness of the trip plan is especially important when you are in the fragile stages of learning the sport. Our learning curve is best at an optimal level of challenge. Just enough is best. Too much challenge, and you feel the boat stiffen up under you, your torso doesn’t flow with the strokes, and your brain tenses with critical self talk. The day simply is not as enjoyable. A small incremental increase in difficulty from one trip to the next will give you the best opportunity to improve. Exploration I know that trips with certain friends will have a supportive focus. They are there for the camaraderie, and to get to a beautiful place outdoors. Everyone’s comfort level will be the absolute priority. Even though there may not be any difference in actual risk, the perceived safety of a supportive group makes for a better day. Scenic Learning, exploring, and getting exercise or an adrenaline rush can dominate a day on the water. Don’t forget to relish in the scenic wonder, the magic of the light on the water, the wildlife and diversity along the shore. Thrive on the simplicity of self propelled travel. The challenge was completely manageable. In fact, on some of the best trips, the challenge is masked by the energized fun with a supportive group of people. Warm and dry at the end of the day, you can reflect on what made the day perfect.

Find the right Friends

Not everyone has the same predisposition for a trip. Find friends who share your interests in paddling, to increase the likelihood of a match. You probably know people who are always seeking a goal and a challenge. As borderline adrenaline junkies, their idea of challenge are too big for comfort at learning a new recreation. So no matter what your level, on your next trip, put your purpose out there for discussion and buy-in by all on the trip. Declare your intentions for the day. How much challenge do you seek? What difficulty? How important are the scenic and social aspects to the success of the day? What is the bottom line for your enjoyment? Understanding those motivators goes a long way towards guaranteeing fun for all. There is truly a world of paddling options to be had… so narrowing down your motivations helps insure that every trip you go on will be a success. Imagine this… a friend calls offering an opportunity to go on your first paddling trip. It is supposed to be a mild sea kayaking trip. But all you have seen about kayaking lately is whitewater, and the automobile advertisements with testosterone overdosed whako waterfall jumpers, and magazine photos of similarly crazy stunts. Your media influenced image of the sport excites the adrenaline seeking part of you, but the saner side leans you towards caution. How do you know if the trip matches your interests?


The Plan
The paddling trips I enjoy most have clearly stated goals, so it is easier to determine that the trip is right for me. My ideal is when the plan for the trip is declared up front in the invitation: “we are going out on an easy tour, where our number one goal is to get outdoors with some friends, and get some fresh air in a beautiful place. “ This sort of definition of challenge-social-scenic goals puts me in a comfort zone for the best possible day.


Skill Building
Awareness of the trip plan is especially important when you are in the fragile stages of learning the sport. Our learning curve is best at an optimal level of challenge. Just enough is best. Too much challenge, and you feel the boat stiffen up under you, your torso doesn’t flow with the strokes, and your brain tenses with critical self talk. The day simply is not as enjoyable. A small incremental increase in difficulty from one trip to the next will give you the best opportunity to improve.
Exploration
I know that trips with certain friends will have a supportive focus. They are there for the camaraderie, and to get to a beautiful place outdoors. Everyone’s comfort level will be the absolute priority. Even though there may not be any difference in actual risk, the perceived safety of a supportive group makes for a better day.


Scenic
Learning, exploring, and getting exercise or an adrenaline rush can dominate a day on the water. Don’t forget to relish in the scenic wonder, the magic of the light on the water, the wildlife and diversity along the shore. Thrive on the simplicity of self propelled travel. The challenge was completely manageable. In fact, on some of the best trips, the challenge is masked by the energized fun with a supportive group of people. Warm and dry at the end of the day, you can reflect on what made the day perfect.


Find the right Friends
Not everyone has the same predisposition for a trip. Find friends who share your interests in paddling, to increase the likelihood of a match. You probably know people who are always seeking a goal and a challenge. As borderline adrenaline junkies, their idea of challenge are too big for comfort at learning a new recreation.
So no matter what your level, on your next trip, put your purpose out there for discussion and buy-in by all on the trip. Declare your intentions for the day. How much challenge do you seek? What difficulty? How important are the scenic and social aspects to the success of the day? What is the bottom line for your enjoyment? Understanding those motivators goes a long way towards guaranteeing fun for all.