For both of us, paddleboarding is not just about the sport, it’s a way of life. We both grew up next to Paddle Cabin’s home, yet we met at sunrise at the summit of mount Snowdon, our favourite mountain, back in 2014 and never looked back.
Jo’s passion for paddle boarding grew over the last few years and knowing Hayley’s love for the outdoors and passion for wellbeing, she introduced Hayley to the sport and the water quickly became the place she felt at her happiest. In fact, being on the water triggered a sense of relief that Hayley had been searching for since her diagnosis of breast cancer. Thanks to paddle boarding, she gained a renewed appreciation for life post-treatment at the age of 27, through the spark of adventure on the water and the peacefulness of nature surrounding her.
Last year was a year like no other, with the impact of covid-19 and personal challenges with difficult relationship breakups, loss and health problems. Paddleboarding got them through a difficult time to heal, boost their mental health and inspiring more change than expected. Hayley moved back to Kent and struggled to find a local paddling community and place to call home on the water.
We were approached with the opportunity to set up Paddle Cabin to give access to the water on an inaccessible part of the River Medway in Kent. Having previously worked for several adventure activity companies, for Hayley, this really was a dream come true, to run her very own slice of adventure. For Jo, with her career in helping businesses be more responsible, this gave us the opportunity to make the Paddle Cabin as responsible as it can be, from water safety to environmental impact to our charity partners.
We wanted to offer ways for everyone to experience the paddleboarding way of life through our three-pronged purpose around learning, wellbeing and community. From building skills and confidence on the water, feeling connected to nature and refreshed, to finding your tribe through our members and club events, there really is something for everyone. Paddle Cabin activities for our members include coming together for our social campfire paddles, river clean-ups, calming the mind through our SUP Meditation or SUP Yoga, SUP Singles night (paddle dating) and SUP Pups sessions to give you the confidence to take your dog out on the board with you.
We loved introducing all our friends and family locally to the sport through teaching, coaching and exploring and loved how everyone wanted to a slice of the paddle boarding life. There is so much beauty on and in the water in Kent everywhere you paddle and we loved introducing locals to this beauty on their doorstep they had not yet discovered. So we formally began our coaching journey in November 2020, taking the route of a SUP Sheltered Water Coach, which enables you to coach in up to Force 3 winds, up to 200m from shore.
Becoming a coach rather than an instructor was really important to us, to be able to create and live by our own coaching philosophies and focus on helping individuals meet their own personal SUP goals. We both have Jenna from Flying Gecko Outdoors to thank for her encouragement and patience to go through the coaching qualifications so quickly thanks to her time and effort. Creating a supportive environment that encourages more female paddlers into the sport is really important to us, and interestingly, our members are already 80% female so we seem to be creating that welcoming culture which is amazing! It is tough setting up a business from scratch, especially in a pandemic and this is when those cheerleaders really help you achieve your goals so thank you Jenna!
We have been overwhelmed by the amazing encouragement from the paddleboarding community across the UK with invaluable advice and guidance. It makes us so proud to be part of such a supportive and growing community as we started up the Paddle Cabin over the last five months. For us, doing our training through British Canoeing was the right route for what we set out to achieve, so becoming a Delivery Partner was a no-brainer and we were so excited to join the programme when it launched.
We loved our coaching journeys with British Canoeing, and we trust in its reputation to deliver excellent operating plans and governance, which is so important when we are starting out. Being a Delivery Partner gives us credibility as a new business to demonstrate the quality of our experiences and sessions, and a little boost of confidence that we need. It is a really supportive scheme so we wanted to be a part of as every time we have a question or concern, we can just reach out and get some help and advice to make sure we are doing things right, and with their support. And we have definitely had our fair share of advice so far – thanks guys! We love British Canoeing’s promotion of responsible paddling, and focus on learning and development so being part of the delivery partner scheme gives us more opportunities and ways to learn and keep developing.
We can’t wait to see how the scheme develops over time and be part of that journey for SUP!
The journey for the season is only just beginning and we are so excited to see how it unfolds. We want to be a key pillar of the paddle boarding community in Kent, working with all the other amazing SUP organisations in the county to introduce more people to the paddle boarding life and we are exploring some exciting ways to collaborate over the next year! We also aim to be a training provider to able to help aspiring coaches access training locally from our cabin to help grow the sport in Kent and to offer the Personal Performance Awards from our home.
We already offer discounted sessions that are means tested so that those who can’t afford to paddleboard can access the sport, and next year, we want to be able to deliver paddleability sessions to help make paddle boarding more inclusive. As our members base keeps growing, we would love to do more trips around the UK for our members to explore new and different paddling environments, and hopefully we are able to take these overseas at some point! So… only a few plans hey!
If you’re interested in becoming a Delivery Partner, this is open to businesses who provide paddlesport activity. This includes sole traders, activity centres, hire providers, small and large organisations, charities, etc., across the UK and Internationally. Find out more and become a Partner today!
Looking to start your journey as a SUP Sheltered Water Coach? The Coach Award is designed for people whose core function is to coach paddlers who want to gain/improve paddlesport skills within the discipline chosen. This will include coaching beginners new to the sport, or paddlers looking to develop their skills in the given discipline or environment. Find out more using the following links:
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