As of the 1st September 2007 the BCU is introducing a new scheme by which paddlers will be able to benchmark their skills and abilities on the water in a variety of craft and disciplines. The scheme will consist of the Star Awards and the Paddlepower Awards.
Paddlepower is a youth-centred scheme aimed at encouraging young people to come into and stay within paddlesports. Its structured so that key concepts are introduced at specific stages within a paddler’s development, providing a strong foundation of skills and understanding. This structure also helps coaches to maximise both their sessions and their students’ potential. As well as focusing on skills and understanding there is also a strong emphasis on participation, and paddlers are encouraged to experience the many aspects of paddlesport available – both competitive and adventurous, across a spread of
disciplines. Its flexible structure means that it can be delivered in any venue or situation.
The intention behind the new Star Award scheme is to provide support and encouragement for adults (16+) in order that they can get out and go paddling. Changes that established paddlers will notice include the initial awards being generic, encouraging participants to experience the various disciplines of paddlesport available, then individuals being able to ‘specialising’ at the Three Star Award level (sea, surf, white water, open canoe & flat water). The emphasis of these awards is to develop personal skills and gain independence; the Four Star and Five Star awards are leadership awards enabling paddlers to lead groups in appropriate conditions.
The journey down this long and sometimes winding road has not been straightforward and its not quite over yet. It will be interesting to see how attractive the new scheme is to would-be customers (for that's what they are) as well as how those who can currently assess the awards cope with the changes with who can do what as of September.
For more information and syllabi on both award scheme go to the BCU website .