Cue The Journey Song….
Now that you’re singing it in your head. Imagine a small town girl that’s used to paddling a chill river thinking she could show up to a River 1 SUP course and like most things in life figure it out pretty quickly.
While many find the rush of whitewater exhilarating, I was convinced after hearing about all the hazards in the river I was supposed to identify and avoid; I was going to die in it.
There is no rational explanation to the visceral reaction I had standing near the water's edge. My whole being shook: legs, trunk, arms, brain. It was the first time I felt such an adrenaline dump that crippled my ability to learn, react or progress.
Every time I tried to apply what was being explained my body would do the opposite out of reaction. Which caused me to literally do the wrong move each time. It becomes really hard to practice when you’re so tired from self rescuing yourself onto your board. Fear itself is tiring, causing you to become rigid and in turn creating a harder learning environment.
Let’s just say nothing was setting me up for success except Reta Boychuk. She was very patient and evolved herself as an instructor to find ways for me to be successful. If you ever require an exit buddy into the current, that’s a direct reflection of the time she had to ferry me across the river because I froze. Nemo depending on Crush The Turtle….
Other than being determined and understanding that if you keep showing up it eventually happens.
THE RIVER SURFER:
March 2021 I met up with Reta as I came off Vancouver Island and her from The Sunshine Coast. Picking me up in Vancouver we road tripped to the epic Trail Wave. Unsure if it would be at the appropriate levels we took the chance and went anyway.
The Trail Wave I believe was the biggest turning point for me in paddling whitewater. As big as it seems and with a fairly big swim after I was hooked. I was magic. The safest, most perfect place to build my confidence.
Tears of joy and disbelief were coming down after this photo. It seemed so surreal that I just surfed there, without the coaching and mentorship from Reta it would never have happened.
It was a great start to the 2021 paddle season, a year that pushed me further than I ever thought possible. Paddling The Red Deer River at high water, taking my Swift Water Rescue Level 1 Technician, paddling from Jasper to Athabasca 663 km and going down The Slocan River were just a few highlights.
THE RIVER INSTRUCTOR:
Outside of paddling flatwater on Slocan Lake on a winter SUP expedition in February 2022, I hadn’t touched water for over seven months. As past progression showed though, I usually relaxed more over that time and was able to process what needed to happen. It did cross my mind briefly to not even try to attend the course as I wasn’t sure I would be ready.
Winter passed by quickly and I hadn’t even put any thought into the technicalities I should be practicing to prepare for my instructor course until a week out. By studying and getting back into the groove for the week I had this odd unattachment to passing. If I did great, if not I had more work to do; I was prepared for both outcomes.
I had put in the time.
I had connected the dots.
I had the skills.
I trusted myself.
I never shook once beside the river.
I even liked it.
There I said it, I like whitewater.
Having three amazing days of paddling where I felt confident, competent and had fun on the water was such an accomplishment. The deep sense of pride I feel in consistently showing up when I didn’t want to, being supported to keep trying and finishing what I started won’t fade quickly.
It will be shared and passed down to other new paddlers who may struggle with the same things I did. I have deep empathy for those nervous paddlers.
And if nothing else just remember:
Don’t Stop Believing…
Sending You Love N SUP,
The Reluctant Whitewater Paddler
CANRVRSUP River 1 Instructor www.paddleathabasca.com/
Find the Badfish SUP River Shred and Badfish SUP IRS online or locally at AQ Outdoors.
I immediately booked me and my friend for flatwater to river lessons with Reta’s help. This is where my “hear me out” comes in, as that is how I started the conversation with my friend who thought why would we require lessons? Especially for flatwater, after all, it is just “get on your board and paddle”, no biggy…. Tell that to someone not in a life jacket, no leash, or wetsuit/dry suit in a bloody cold lake! (Yes, sadly it still happens). “Hear me out” I said, “we are going to eventually learn River SUP, but I need to start at the beginning. I want to know everything from square one, learn good habits now, know what to do if I fall, how to get back on the board. Learn about all the gear and the safety measures required if I am paddling alone, or with kids, or pets. Eventually I want to learn to travel on water with my board, sleep under the stars, this will be good for you too! You with me or without me???”
Suffice to say, she was stoked and totally in…Since we have taken the lessons, our excitement has grown even more as you never know where these lessons will take you.
It was an absolute pleasure to take our first lessons with Rebecca and Amanda for Flatwater, who described the equipment, gear and safety requirements, as well the proper technique of entering and existing the water. We were shown the proper way to use our paddle (yes, there is a proper way to paddle when SUP’ing). By the end of the first lesson, we were comfortable in falling in deep waters, and getting back on our board. They had our backs the whole time! We were completely safe. Any errors were corrected in a very encouraging way. Our confidence grew to be on flatwater (so did our ego 😊).
At Brave Viking we believe that change starts with you! As a supporter of the Brave Viking brand you will represent the hope, kindness and empathy the world needs to start on the path to healing.
Join us in our mission to build community around mental health by wearing the Brave Viking brand and signalling to others that you are ready, willing and committed to start on the path to mental health and be of service to others in need.
Proceeds from the purchase of a "mystic" Kula cloth will be donated to project all in on behalf of Lisa's river of hope journey.
Check out the Highlights from River of Hope 2021
SUP Slalom Time trial style
Gates and course will be set before the start of the race to allow for viewing and practicing.
Races will be various distances that will be determined before the start of each race.
This race is run in heats of 3 to 5 racers and uses an elimination-style until there are only four racers left.
Downriver SUP Race
Races will be various distances that will be determined before each race.
There is typically only one race, and it will either be a mass start or a staggered timed start.
SUP SURF COMP
1-10 scoring system.
Max 2 min rides 10 Minute HEATS - of 4-5 surfers in each Heat.
Best 2 from each heat move forward to finals.
Paddlers may surf any size or style of board, and you may change boards during the comp. Our goal it is to showcase surfing and control before slippery tricks. The surfers goal is to work their way up the points.
.5 starting bonus for surfing top wave.
1 point bonus for a clean exit and return to eddy at the end of your full time ride.
1 establishing a surf (standing up essentially)
2-3 carving but not super aggressive
3-5 aggressive carving connecting turns (this can be a broader scale if you want it to be. If they're connecting turns and have great style with it and look super in control you can give them a higher score in that)
5-6 Side grinds, ollies (fins out) 6-8 this could be 180s, grabs, shuv its, and airs (how they score within this range could be based on style and control.
8-10 spins, pop shuv its, and whatever other big technical trips are being thrown down there.
Don't forget to SIGN UP for a Kan Fest Clinic to get ready for your event!
Lets have fun!
The CANRVRSUP TEAM!
It is slowly becoming more openly discussed. What once was in the shadows is being brought to the light.
My hope is one day having support for mental health is looked at as having a personal trainer for your mind. Initially, paddling down The Athabasca River from Jasper to Athabasca, AB was just that. A paddler pushing personal boundaries and exploring waterways. Sometimes we have to speak up before we stand up and paddle away. That is why partnering with the following organizations regarding mental health is so important.
Please check out the following:
Project All In
Center For Suicide Prevention
The goal is simple enough. Raise $1 per kilometer paddled: $650 total. (Update: this has been easily surpassed). Intrinsically they’re all tied to the same context but each has a different story and path to follow.
The end game is the same. Stop the stigma, ease suffering and create conversation instead of silence. So, as I paddle the river on long physically and mentally exhausting days, I understand that I am choosing to inflict this on myself. Not everyone gets that choice. Many people live trapped in their own minds, unable to walk away from the pain.
For those people I paddle, bring light to the dark and stand up for!
Please join me virtually as I paddle and share your #riverofhopepaddle pics and stories too!
Follow me @lovensup and @reta.sends on Instagram August 10-20th, anywhere from 25-91 km distances down the river each day. There’s some amazing stories and coincidences to come out even before the paddle begins.
I like to think about instructor PEDIGREE. Where did they get their training and experience from? Who were or are their coaches and instructors? Training. Certifications. Competitive backgrounds or paddling career highlights. And again look for that matchup with your interests.
And then there is the all encompassing EXPERIENCE. Paddling experience is one thing. Instructing, guiding and coaching experience are quite another. Look for both - but especially the latter. I have seen some great paddlers who are poor instructors and coaches.
One final word. Don’t fall for marketing hype. Claims about being “the best” or whatever, abound out there. Let the pedigree and experience of the company and instructors speak for itself.
Reviews and testimonials are definitely something to look for.
Hope that helps when you are trying to find or decide on a great instructor.
Paddle Canada River 1 and 2 Instructor Trainer
Coach and Mentor to CANRVRSUP's
Head Instructor Reta Boychuk
If you feel you have the skills, only then are you ready for instructor training and certification. Few if any self taught paddlers have the skills or knowledge to effectively or safely instruct and guide. Instructor training and certifications hone your skills, teach you how to teach, and perhaps most importantly subject you to the review and evaluation of some of the most experienced instructors out there. If you are scared of subjecting yourself to the scrutiny of an instructor course, if your ego can’t take it, then you are just simply not ready to be an instructor.
And lastly - becoming a great instructor requires humility and compassion. Instructing isn’t about you. I look at instructing and guiding as a great privilege and responsibility. You are helping people achieve their goals and live out their dreams. If you are in it to ‘be’ an instructor, to ‘be’ a leader then you are in it for the wrong reasons.
To me that’s what it takes to be a great guide and instructor.
Paddle Canada River 1 and 2 Instructor Trainer
Coach and Mentor to CANRVRSUP's Head Instructor Reta Boychuk
Flatwater is the launching point for novices interested in stand up paddle boarding. Learn about proper SUP equipment and safety gear. Find your feet, fine tune your stroke, and perfect your pivot turns through one of our comprehensive Basic SUP and Advance Flatwater clinics.
Progress into your potential. Our collective aims to empower you to discover the river in a safe manner. We can help you broaden your own personal understanding of paddling and water hydrology as it relates to river environments.
Explore your boundaries. Join an enthusiastic and welcoming community of stand up paddle boarders on a guided trip. Let us help you plan a self-guided adventure. Or challenge yourself by becoming a certified instructor and share the stoke with new people. The options are limitless.
Check out our upcoming webinars demonstrating form and progressions. This interactive series will be developed with the whitewater paddler in mind.
CANRVRSUP = Unparalleled excellence in all aspects of stand up paddle boarding.
Contact Us Today! Let us help you find your feet on the water.
Lisa Stocking and Reta Boychuk