November 16, 2010 -- Tohickon Creek, PA
A huge Thank You goes to Chris Norbury and Emmy Truckenmiller for organizing and donating their time to put on a fantastic Development Team Training Camp November 4-7, 2010 in Pennyslvannia. We had 2 full days of flatwater work on the Noxamixon Lake and 2 days on the delightful class III technical Tohickon Creek.
I really must be honest and say that this was the best wildwater training camp I've been to! No two ways about it. I've attended quite a few since 2000 when I first became hopelessly addicted to wildwater racing, and all have been a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity to paddle with other wildwater paddlers. None of them, though, have come close to providing the tailored assistance that has changed the way I paddle and train, like this one did.
First of all, the Instructor to Student ratio was ideal: one to three. This provided the detailed attention needed to make real stroke change improvements. It helped to have an instructor with the skill to sleuth out and explain the "why". In otherwords, I wasn't just told (again!) that I'm not reaching far enough forward, but Chris figured out why I wasn't getting my paddle in far enough forward. Then I was provided with creative ways to work on improving that part of my stroke. We learned a number of drills (most of them grueling!) and there was ample time for our coach to ensure that we were doing them properly so we wouldn't end up going back home and reinforcing bad habits all winter. The camp was more than two days, which allowed enough time to reinforce what was learned the day before; something that rarely happens with a 1 day or 2 day event. We also had a heroic videographer, Emmy, who stood in the pouring rain patiently for hours to get good footage (no – it didn't rain all weekend – only one day). We all stayed together like a team so there was plenty of time to view the videos in the evening and discuss them and to also watch other wildwater footage.
The instruction continued on our whitewater days – we didn't just paddle the river together. It was a real treat to have constant feedback as we worked the whitewater and discussed ways to read and learn lines better and how to go faster by going more smoothly, both on the sprint course and the next day doing several classic runs on the river. That feedback worked well in helping to translate our flatwater skills to whitewater conditions. In addition, because the camp was part of the Development program, I found my approach to training has changed and it will now be more focused.
Clearly, the US Wildwater Committee made a good move by selecting the US Team early enough in the year so that we could have an opportunity to "develop." I've found the program so far very valuable and I believe others have, too. I'd like to recognize the amount of volunteer time all the paddlers helping out in the Development training program are doing. These are the real wildwater paddlers – the ones giving back to the sport. Thanks to all of you! And, thanks again Chris – you're awesome! It was well worth a trip from Seattle. I enjoyed "bonding" with a few of the other team members and I'm looking forward to the next training camp. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll see me going faster!