Where in the World are Shawna and Leon?

Shawna and Leon have been on a whirlwind tour, teaching and taking classes all over the world!

In July, Leon and Shawna were invited to teach at the PeddlePraat Sea Kayak Week in Dan Helder in the Netherlands. The week started with two days of coach training for the PeddlePraat Association of Sea Kayakers, which is the largest paddling club in the Netherlands. They were kindly hosted the entire week by Paul de Hass, Marion, and Axel Schoevers including being put up in a fancy caravan at the main symposium headquarters.

The symposium was a very well organized and efficiently run, and was quite different from symposiums in the US for a number of reasons. Groups of students would work with the same set of coaches for the entire week, which provided a lot of continuity for the students. Shawna and Leon moved from group to group through the week, and had the opportunity to work with nearly every participant and coach at the event. Coaches would meet every morning and evening to plan and debrief the day, and took an additional half day at the end of the symposium to fully debrief the event and discuss how it can be improved in the future. The students and coaches of PeddlePraat were especially impressed with the rescues demonstrated by Shawna and Leon, and are working to incorporate some aspects of those rescues into their own curriculum.

Before leaving the Netherlands, Leon and Shawna got to spend a couple of days playing tourist in Amsterdam, where they were hosted by Auke and Annette in their lovely modern apartment. Exploring Amsterdam on foot, they visited the famous Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, and ate plenty of delicious dutch cheese.

Two weeks after returning from Europe, Shawna was on another plane, this time headed to Michigan. A five hour flight, a five hour drive, and a ferry ride to Drummond Island got her to the 10th annual Ladies of the Lake symposium, sponsored by Werner Paddles and Down Wind Sports. Shawna had attended the first Ladies of the Lake symposium back in 2003, and enjoyed the opportunity to return for the 10th anniversary. Sandy beaches, warm water, a wild costume party with DJs Kelly Blades and Bill Thompson, and meeting old friends and new all made this a great trip for Shawna. She wouldn’t have missed it!

The first week of September saw Shawna and Leon off to Skookumchuck, an annual trip for Leon's birthday. The wave was a bit faster than they typically like for sea kayaks, and, while attempting to rescue a white water paddler who had come out of his boat, Leon got stuck deep in a rather large whirlpool. He was held down for quite a while before being ejected vertically out of the water. Onlookers claim at least three quarters of his 16 foot kayak were visible above the water before he came crashing back down to the surface, thankfully right side up. It was a very long hold down that Leon hopes never to experience again.

The Skooks trip was shorter than usual this year, and the day after the two returned they were on a plane bound for Manchester in the UK. They were met in Manchester by their good friend Justine Curgenven, and got to spend some quality time with her before heading up to Snowdonia for some BCU training.

They spend their first week in the UK at Plas y Brenin, the National Sports Center in Wales. There they attended a UKCC Level 3 core coach training run by Pete Catterall and Sid Sinfield. They also took several other coaching modules including Coaching the Mind and Fitness for Paddlers. They left Plas y Brenin for a moderation course for the roll out of the new Level 1 and Level 2 coach training courses before heading to Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Center for some additional coaching modules, Racing 1 & 2, taught by Keith Hampton.

With their minds full, it was time for a visit with friends and mentors Mike Devlin, the BCU Coaching Director and Dr. Bill Taylor. They enjoyed delicious home cooked meals, lots of walks with Bill, his partner Eila, and their three lovely Labradors, and tea at the local Nantwich book shoppe.

Shawna and Leon also got a chance to visit Shrewsberry, where they stood in the very room in which Charles Darwin was born! A very exciting opportunity for two biology geeks like them.

The last stop on the UK tour was the Sea Kayaking UK Dealers Meet. Here, SKUK dealers from around the world gather to talk, look at new products, and paddle around some of the most famous tidal races in the world. Shawna most enjoyed their day at South Stack, where the race was running strong with big green waves on a nice sunny day. Leon, however, most enjoyed his chance to drive the RNLI lifeboat out of Holyhead and around the three big races!

Shawna and Leon were back home only a week before rushing off to teach and learn at Alder Creek's West Coast BCU Week. Starting in Portland, where they attended a 3 day Four Star Open Canoe course with BCU coach Rob Yates, then heading to Astoria to run a number of BCU courses. After two days of four star trainings and assessments, and another week of coach training courses, the two headed down to Pacific City for the 2013 Lumpy Waters symposium.

The conditions in Pacific City were fantastic this year. Highlights include meeting lots of old friends, paddles through surf in the fog, and the phenomenal Oregon Coastline. And did anyone notice the goats on the beach?

Shawna and Leon are back home for just a few short days before they leave for the South Pacific Kayak Symposium in Valdevia, Chile. They are looking forward to experiencing a new location, a new environment, and of course making some new friends.

After they return from Chile they head to Eastern Washington University for a few days to meet and attend a talk by Steven Pinker, one of the most influential scientists and thinkers in the world.

Finally, Leon and Shawna will be home for the year, and it will be time to start thinking about holiday sales and the upcoming 2014 season!

The canals of Amsterdam Ladies of the Lake Shawna breaking in Leon coaching from the bank Shawna stands up on the skooks wave Shawna getting coached Old friends The SKUK factory floor Leon cuts it up at Penryn Mawr Justine on top of Mt. Snowdon


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