Is being a kayak instructor still fun?

Sad Puppy

So is being a kayak coach still fun? Is kayaking still fun? Having been at paddling now for over ten years, it still consumes me and drives me forward. I still dream of paddling, waves, and beautiful expeditions. Being deeply entrenched within a community as active and skilled as the Great Lakes has been massively helpful, but that is paddling. What about instructing and coaching? Is it still fun? Why do it? Does anyone need to teach to be a good kayaker? Probably not. No one gets rich being a kayak instructor. It doesn’t pay for itself, no matter how much I tell my wife that all the training, and time will be rewarded through courses.

I’ve had nearly bi-weekly courses for almost three years now, pool sessions, other symposiums and our own Gales Storm Gathering. Having put a ton of effort into organizing, salesmanship, marketing, I asked myself last night, what has been the result? Do I have a plethora of loyal students who show up to my lessons pay me boatloads of cash, engage with paddling, and walk away becoming star paddlers? No, not really? Who does? And there are folks who have been at it much longer than me, with far more capital and equity invested. Businesses that have been far more serious than mine have failed. I am a weekend warrior coach. And especially looking at great kayak instructors from the Gales, Shawna and Leon, Nick Cunliffe, Scott Fairty, Ryan Rushton, what could I expect from the time and energy I have invested in coaching?

So this thought caused me to ask what I really wanted from being a kayak instructor? And it really came down to two things. I want to be paid what my time is worth based on the time and money I have invested in becoming an instructor and thinking about paddle instruction; and I want it to be fun. Fun.

But are fun and being paid mutually exclusive? I don’t think so. It’s important to note that living in Southwest Michigan, (Kalamazoo), I may not get droves of dedicated students who are fit, active and as interested in getting out of kayaking what I want, (waves, thrills, and spills). And I do have a small group of very good paddlers who are engaged in this type of paddling.

What should I expect from students?…

Some measurable force of positive energy, a smattering of a sense of adventure, and most of all fun. Because fun is why I am into paddling. It is supposed to be fun. I understand trepidation, fear, trying something new. All of that I get. But if you are a negative sad sack, downer, pocket-expert, or if you need life coaching please take up another sport, preferably golf.

This may sound slightly ranty, but what I as a student would expect from a coach, is professionalism, good ideas, safety and fun. So in return, students who come should be ready, willing, and eager to learn so that the mission of Go Kayak Now! continues intact.