How to Become a Useful Group Member
I'm going to go through my top 10 ways to become a useful member of a group and hopefully remove the feeling of being a burden on everyone else or forever out of your comfort zone.
Find like-minded people
Have an active role in choosing paddling destinations or venues. I know a few boaters who in the past (myself included) have just gone along with plans without finding out any information on the nature of the trip, resulting in a few .eyes on stalks. moments. Simply finding out where and what river will give you enough information to avoid any surprises.
Follow me, I'm right behind you!!
Simply following someone.s line down a rapid or through a section of water can encourage the blinker effect, yellow boat that.s all I need to follow! Yellow boat, Yellow boat. Supposing the paddler you.re following has a bad line or goes off their own previous performance or just intends to pick up the pieces at the bottom, is following their line still a good idea? Having a little independence and choosing your own line will give you a lot of river awareness and may help you avoid making mistakes. It also allows you to paddle the day based on how you.re feeling as well as your skill level.
Safety and Rescue
Anyone who has learnt rescue techniques and practiced them until the skills can be relied on in hectic situations is a very valuable member of any group and will avoid the feeling of helplessness on the water.
The right boat for the right environment
Would you go freestyling is a sea kayak? Of course not, so why go river running in a play boat? That sentence has probably made me look very grumpy and old but manufacturers spend time designing boats for different environments for a reason. A play boat won.t have the necessary characteristics to keep you safe on the river, equally a river boat won.t be as much fun in a play feature as your ultra tiny trick boat. Having said that If you want to do a bit of everything without pushing boundaries then there are boats out there that do a little of everything without sacrificing space for proper shoes or re surfacing/ surfing properties too much.
Look after yourself first
Make sure you are comfortable and happy on the water. By this I mean things like dressing to the conditions (no more shorts in winter folks), keep yourself fed and watered and carry a few things like spare water, food, thermals or sun cream to avoid relying on other people. Maybe carry a spare warm jacket if you.re always the one waiting for the shuttle vehicle to come back.
Ok personal kit could fall into the category above but I still want to mention personal safety kit. If everyone is wearing appropriate footwear you lessen the chances of slipping over, walking around on banks becomes easier and thick soles can give a lot of insulation from the ground. If the shoes don.t do their job properly, a decent helmet could avoid nasty head injuries.
In my experience there tends to be one person in charge of a group and they often carry everything the group may need on the water. Ever picked up their boat? Why not share this kit out amongst the group and lighten the load for everyone.
I often hear people on courses, rolling in particular, say I.m doing this because I.m fed up with my poor mates fishing me out all the time. By getting more confident on the water you become an active member of a group rather than being looked after. To get more confident why not go to a venue that.s well with in your comfort zone and work on becoming technically better so that the core skills are there when you rely on them most.
Reflect on the day
In your group of paddling buddies don.t be afraid to truthfully reflect on the days paddling whether it was brilliant or a suffer fest, it doesn.t matter. By doing this you can keep an eye on how people are changing within your group and be able to tailor the next paddling session to everyone within the group.