Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Impressions of the NKB-SAU Spiekeroog course

Sunday I posted all my pictures of the course. And, as there is hardly any limit to digital photography with the giant capacity of memory sticks today, that's a lot of pictures. One can have too much of a good thing. In Dutch we say: "je ziet door de bomen het bos niet meer” - you can't see the wood for the trees. So it's time for a quick-guided tour!

The course was a pilot-project: the first seakayaktraining ever organised by the Dutch NKB and German SAU together. We wanted to learn about our mutual standards, the level of skills, the coaching styles, the drive of the German (resp. Dutch) kayaker, and to get more familiar with the Ostfriesische Inseln – the German North Sea coast. Above all, I wanted to have a good time with an international group of kayakers.
Back home, I conclude there is a lot in common between SAU and NKB. The demanded level of skills for the certificates Zeevaardigheid and Seebefähigung A is almost equal. Both certificates base on the BCU 4 Star-standard. Perhaps the Dutch accentuate a bit more the practical experience (e.g. in surf) while the Germans pay some more attention to the theoretical preparation of the pupils. But those are minor differences.
It’s difficult to say anything about differences in coaching styles as Govert (NKB coach) replaced the SAU coach Urs (Urs couldn’t do the course because of medical reasons). So it’s difficult to compare, but we got some remarks and feedback of the German participants and assistants. My impression is that the NKB-style is more based on learning by doing.
Personally I find it very important in a course to create an atmosphere where the students are stimulated to experiment. The best way of learning is experiencing yourself if your solution works. The student drives his own learning; the coach accommodates and facilitates this by creating learning situations, asking questions and giving feedback. I prefer a non-directive style, but of course it should be appropriate to the situation, the group and the learning goals. Bernhard (SAU Coach) joined the course for the last two days for the examination. I noticed our ideas about coaching go in the same direction.
Govert and I divided the group of 17 participants. I coached my group together with Stephen (SAU assistant). That was a great experience! I am astonished how natural it worked out: I like the way Stephen handles a group of people, it contributed so much in creating the right atmosphere. Thanks Stephen!

And now up to our program. What did we do? Not what we intended to do. We wanted to make a multi-day trip in the course. The weather (forecast) didn’t allow us. Day by day we adapted our program to the weather situation. It was cold and very windy, yet we were on the water every day. Sometimes the conditions, waves and wind, were above 4-star level: not ideal to exercise the perfect technique, but very good to experience different sea-states…

To be continued:
After this “general introduction” I will describe the daily program in the next posts.


derrick said...

Sounds like a good experience. How does cold/rain effect participation there? I'm guessing everyone is well adapted? I know here if the weather is bad you tend to loose all but the hard core paddlers.

René van der Zwan said...

Hi Hans,

Welcome back home after this interesting week.
I have been following the weather. It must have been a hard exercise: paddling against these winds.

Interesting to read about the differences between the German- and Dutch approach: together they are cq. can be a very solid foundation for seakayaking.

I Spoke Wiegert yesterday: he was very enthousiastic and had experienced a very instructive time.


kaat hastings sloggatt said...

hans! as you very astutely pointed out on the last day of camp I enjoyed every single minute of the week. perhaps the next time i shouldn't enjoy so much - but learning is easier when one feels comfortable and happy. sounds almost impossible but comfort in Bft 6-7, rain and sleet is a mental thing. thank you for providing a safe and warm environment this past week.