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Leadership Case Study: Maeve Smith

Meet Maeve Smith who shares her reasons for undertaking her White Water Kayak Leader Award and how this has informed her Leadership skills.

I started kayaking 4 years ago at my local canoe club...

Since then I became really excited about all things whitewater! I started out on trips with my local club to Dartmoor and slowly progressed onto more challenging rivers. I have spent as much time as possible on the river at various locations across the UK and abroad. As part of my biggest kayaking trip, I spent 4 months working and kayaking in Chile. 

I initially took part in the White Water Kayak Leader training as I wanted to be in a position to lead others safely on the river. I wanted to qualify as a leader in order to be able to give something back to the paddling community and help those starting out on their kayaking journey. I personally gained so much from the help of more experienced paddlers when I first started kayaking.

I have really enjoyed having more confidence in my own ability to look after others on the river...

Working towards White Water Kayak Leader assessment has pushed me to try out new rivers with new people and take on more responsibility as part of a team on the river. I have learned a lot of new organisational skills that help to make trips run smoothly. I also really enjoyed the rescue training that was required as part of the qualification. 

The main thing that has changed in my Leadership is my communication skills…

Before I started leading I was often too quiet and over complicated river signals. It has been important for me to learn how to differentiate between the most effective way to communicate with different paddlers. I have learned to keep things simple to ensure clear communication on the river. For example an inexperienced paddler, who may be nervous, compared to a more experienced paddler that is finding the trip easy and is capable of making more difficult lines/ eddys.

Keep an eye on the British Canoeing website for more details of the Paddlesport Leader Award, launching on the 3rd April 2017. 

Photo credit: David Huges - Pucon Kayak Hostel