I had of course undertaken the four star canoe training twice before, firstly with the most excellent Kim Bull four years ago where I learned many new skills on both Kielder Water and The Tyne. Then again a couple of years ago with the legendary Ray Goodwin in North Wales. But I felt I had let my skills lapse and needed further assistance.
I had heard of Ken Hughes and briefly met the guy on an update course a few years ago in Sunderland. Everything I had heard about his courses was always positive so after a little thought I booked myself onto four days of 4 Star Leadership training. On the back of this Ken also invited me to be lead by some candidates taking their assessment just prior the beginning of my training..
My concern was to how I would cope with six consecutive days on the water, I'm sure I would survive.
I had been lead by others before who where taking an assessment but this was usually on the sea, I saw this opportunity to get to see how a canoe assessment pans out, to get to know this part of the Tees a little and of course to have some jolly good fun.
Meeting in Barnard Castle, the candidates quickly turned up and ushered those of us being lead to our cars where we made our way to Cotherstone. After a most excellent introduction with lots of exchanging of information we where ready for our journey - these guys where just so organised.
It was very confidence inspiring being lead by the candidates, everyone involved was very relaxed making it a very pleasant day.
We all practised our skills as we descended the river..
Personally I found it very rewarding just watching those with much greater skill than myself..
Before long we where heading back into Barnard Castle and some lovely welcome sunshine. What was so apparent was how relaxed and free flowing the whole day was. It was obvious that all of the candidates had done a brilliant job of bringing us down the river safely while still making it a fun and exciting experience.
We where to meet at Ellerton Park, situated not far from Catterick. This was the candidates open water assessment day. Conditions where slightly on the benign side but I was aware that the candidates had spent a day here on the 'two days refresher' prior to their assessment days and conditions on that day where much more challenging.
The day again was quite relaxed and we journeyed around the lake being guided by those being assessed. The journey was broken up with much development and demonstration of skills. Some of the deep water paddle skills where very impressive and although I was just one of those being lead we took much away from these sessions. It was fun watching the construction of a diamond sailing rig and it was most effective as they sailed down the lake.
The rescue skills at the end of the session was undertaken quickly and efficiently by those being assessed as we looked on, brrrr that water looked cold..
At the end of the sessions it was excellent to hear that all those who had completed the assessment had passed. Those of us being lead where so pleased for all those involved, so much work had obviously been undertaken by those being assessed. I personally do not like assessments but I would have loved to have been a part of this one..... maybe soon, we will see how the next four days training goes...