I completed my British Canoeing Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport and then carried on to complete my British Canoeing Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport. I find open boating quite empowering, getting a 15 foot boat to do as you command on a rapid makes you feel amazing and I wanted to give others the same feeling, especially other nervous paddlers. This is what inspired me to go forward to do my Canoe Leader Award.
The training was great fun, even when the waves on Bala got a bit bigger than I would like. The best bit of the process for me was actually being able to see your own improvement. I'm not great at believing in my paddling ability but the journey from training to assessment makes it quite apparent. I was not keen on sailing in high wind and big waves on my training weekend but on a wilderness camping and canoeing weekend on Loch Awe we had a thrilling, slightly scary, sail across the loch which I loved.
Another milestone for me was to paddle the Lower Tryweryn. I wasn't sure if I could manoeuvre well enough but it was brilliant fun! After the training and looking at the syllabus, there seemed to be a lot to learn and develop but doing so led to wonderful river trips, lake days, camping weekends, training and an excuse to get out paddling with friends.
I had started to believe in myself as a paddler and I would happily support others to lead, taking a back seat, but the award made me step up, make decisions and have faith in them. I know things won't always go as you have intended but the important thing is that you learn from each new experience. I am now hoping to do the training for Moderate Water Endorsement, so I can eventually coach paddlers so they can enjoy rivers as much as I do.