Ok, it's taken me about 15 minutes to figure out how to start this post so as to accurately profess my excitement about the past weekend. I guess I'll just start from the beginning! This weekend, Heather Adams (fellow Rough Rider from Rochester) and I headed up to Bracebridge, Canada, for the first annual Ontario Greenland Camp, hosted by LearnToKayak, Kayak Ways, and The Complete Paddler.
Day 1: The Drive Up & First Impressions
After an overwhelmingly stressful week of classes, work, TAing, and homework, I departed Ithaca on Friday morning for Rochester. Upon arrival at Heather's house, we loaded my boat onto her car and started the 6 hour drive to Bracebridge, Canada! The drive up was fairly uneventful, and we made it to Camp Tamarack around 5pm. We were feeling a little daunted about meeting a whole new group of kayakers, but we were very excited to meet so many Greenland enthusiasts and kayak lovers like ourselves! After a warm welcome by some of the camp organizers, we settled into our bunk beds (a strange experience since I never went to camp as a kid) and headed over to the main cabin for dinner.
Day 2 AM: Yoga-for-Kayakers, Greenland Strokes, and Rolling Demo
The next day I got up super early for some yoga-for-kayakers. Cheri had us doing all kinds of funny maneuvers on the ground to mimic rolling in our boats. I can only imagine how goofy we all looked, but she kept a straight face! After breakfast we headed over to the beach where all the kayaks were ready to play!
The first item on the agenda was practicing Greenland strokes. Although I was eager to practice rolling, getting to brush up on the basic strokes was incredibly helpful. They're similar, but not exactly the same as Euro-style strokes. For example, the sculling draw stroke, which moves you sideways, is done with an open top hand, rather than keeping a closed-fist grip on the paddle and cocking your wrist back at an awkward angle to turn the paddle face towards the kayak. We also spent a good chunk of time practicing the forward stroke, which can be really hard to perfect if you're a convert from Euro-style paddling. They had us paddle past the gauntlet of instructors and gave us each feedback about our stroke. Heather's stroke was perfect from the very beginning, and after a few modifications, my forward stroke was getting positive feedback. I was always under the impression that the proper way to do it is to keep your elbows at your sides, but that's not the case! As long as you're rotating your torso rather than bending your elbows, it's good to extend your arms a bit. I'm excited to get out and put in some miles with this new knowledge!
Before lunch we got to watch a rolling demo during which Turner yelled out rolls in order of difficulty, and all the mentors then rolled in unison. It looked really neat! This session wrapped up with an upside down paddling race!
Day 2 PM: Rolling Practice, Greenland Ropes, General Chillage!
The afternoon was dedicated to rolling practice. Cheri and Turner went through the dynamics of the standard Greenland roll:
- Laying sideways on the ground, with your leg out in front of you (like an L), and your chest and shoulders square to the ground.
- Starting to roll your top hip towards the ground at the same time as kicking the lower knee up.
- Sliding your upper body, with your shoulders still square to the ground and head facing down, across and over your knees, staying curled towards your knees.
Once we were chilled to the bone from rolling, we took a hot shower and headed over to watch Heather Lamon and Adam Hansen demonstrate moves on the rolling ropes:
That evening after dinner there were three presentations: One by the curator of the Canadian Canoe Museum, another by Heather Lamon about her trip to the Greenland rolling competition this summer, and another by Adam Hansen about growing up in Greenland. While sitting around the campfire and enjoying some wine, I spent some time talking to Kelly McDowell, who owns The Complete Paddler shop in Toronto. It was neat to hear stories about a kayaking shop other than BayCreek!
Day 3: Harpoons, Greenland Weddings, and More Rolling (of course)
The next morning Heather and I made it to breakfast just in time! After breakfast we got to practice more of the things we learned the day before. I still had my reverse sweep (forward-finishing) roll! Turner also showed me how to do a forward butterfly roll (links from kayakways.net). We also had the chance to try throwing a harpoon from our kayaks (notice that the harpoon is headed straight for the water... I definitely would not have been able to feed my family had I depended on this source of food...):
- Forward sprint
- Towing a swimmer
- Paddling backwards
- Greenland wedding
I can't wait 'til next year!