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Joseph Berkovitz

Skills Practice Sessions 2020

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NOTE - These events are going forward on schedule, subject to public health restrictions on out of state attendance and maximum gathering sizes. We will post updates next week (6/8) after the next cycle of reopening is announced.

Skills Practice sessions are a series of events in Summer 2020 offering NSPN members a regular opportunity to improve their fundamental paddling skills. The sessions are held exclusively in coastal saltwater locations, allowing us to practice in a range of real-world conditions from protected water to open ocean. Joe Berkovitz and Bob Levine (rylevine) are the organizers.

See the session calendar for descriptions of all Skills Practice topics and dates. These are also individually booked on the NSPN calendar.

Each session is dedicated to specific kayaking skills, and includes one or more volunteers (“facilitators”) from the club who can help with practicing and developing them. There will be a variety of facilitators. As of press time we have Jeff Charette, Sue Hriciga, Bob, and Joe available to facilitate and we're sure others will join the effort too.

Sessions will typically split into pods, each with its own facilitator. The aim is to place paddlers with compatible goals together, and for groups to be small enough for everyone to get attention. The activities of each pod are steered by its members, so not all pods will do the same things in the same way. All attendees are encouraged to contribute their own practice ideas. Skills Practice is a dogma-free zone!

Who can benefit from Skills Practice? Any NSPN member, from newbie to expert, can get something out of a Skills Practice session. Practice at the level that works best for you. If you know a topic well and want to help paddlers gain that knowledge, consider being a facilitator.

Is this some kind of official NSPN course on “How To Paddle”? Nope, it’s not official, and it’s not even a set course. The focus is on picking up skills from each other, without prescribing any single way to paddle. What you get at a given session depends on who is there.

Where and when does this happen? Sessions begin at 9:00 am sharp on Saturday or Sunday mornings at various locations in the North Shore area, and will usually end from 2-3 pm. See the session calendar for details. Exact locations will be announced a few days in advance to reflect weather and sea conditions. Some sessions will incorporate a brief paddling trip.

Want to attend a session? Just sign up via the NSPN calendar for any sessions you like. There are no level requirements: all members are welcome. The number of slots will be limited depending on the number of facilitators available for a given session. However, some sessions may work best if you’ve done a preceding session that lays some foundation.

What do I need?  You will need a closed-deck sea kayak suitable for coastal paddling, with sealed bulkheads or float bags, and grab lines along the perimeter. Dress for immersion and a spray skirt are required (and for a few sessions, a helmet). Bring lunch, snacks and fluids for yourself. Optionally, bring a tow line, radio, and spare paddles. (Don’t have something? Contact the organizers and we’ll try to scare something up for you.)

Want to facilitate a session pod? We want you on board to share your knowledge! Please PM the organizers with your availability, contact information, sessions of interest, experience helping other paddlers improve, and gear you may be able to lend. 

How does facilitation work? Although demonstration and explanation are part of the picture, the main aim of Skills Practice is to give paddlers the experience of performing a skill. This often involves breaking it down into clear, approachable steps. Before each session, we’ll have some online exchange among facilitators to share our thoughts.

Got another question? There's a conversation thread right here!
 

Edited by Joseph Berkovitz
Covid update

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I want to cheer this on. This is exactly what a club like this should be about. Thanks to Bob and Joe for organizing! 

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If you folks want to do a current/tides one in Woods Hole, I'd be glad to head it up. 

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Thanks Joe and Bob for organizing this! And it's not on a Wednesday so I'll be able to make some. I'm looking forward to it. 

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Great idea!  Though I personally doubt I'll attend many if any sessions because of the 9am meeting time.

 

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My husband Scott and I are in! But yeah, that 9am start time is going to make it rough, as we're an hour South of Boston.

Edited by mharrison

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Yeah, I hear that. 9 am is definitely an early start. The reason we chose that time is because of issues with limited parking and beach-going traffic on summer weekends. After 8:30-9, a lot of people from the city start arriving at the shore in earnest.

We are expecting to do some sessions in South Shore venues, which should help folks in points south... and maybe we'll test the waters with a 10 am session as an experiment, to see if it's a problem. Stay tuned!

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Thank you so much Bob and Jo.  It is so kind of you to put this together - and putting out the schedule so early in the year makes it possible for me to  shift everything around the skill sessions.  This is perfect for me!  Sherry 

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(Bump) - These events are going forward on schedule, subject to public health restrictions on out of state attendance and gathering sizes. We will post updates next week (6/8) after the next cycle of reopening is announced.

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