Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Photo: Simon Willis

I was fortunate enough to have some spare time in the diary which enabled me to attend the 1st Paddle Expedition Symposium at Plas Y Brenin organised by Pete Cattrall. The event itself was set over two days though I could only participate in the first and it was very informative indeed. The format included a number of rotating workshops with the chance to attend two in the morning and then two in the afternoon covering an array of subjects within the spectrum of paddlesports used for expeditioning. Saturday was concluded by a collection of lectures that covered three paddlesport disciplines - Olly Sanders: sea kayaking (Greenland), Rosemary Powell: canoeing (Canada) and Dave Manby: river kayaking (Global Retrospective). Overall it was a beneficial and educative process with plenty of time to network and gather information. Simon Willis has produced some good reportage covering the weekend on his blog

With time to reflect on matters, I've been considering what are the benefits of symposiums and who do they profit. There is clearly a chance to learn from the experts who possess the turnkey wisdom. I also think there are great possibilties for shareware knowledge as we all have some experiences worth giving out to help others avoid mistakes previously made. Events of this nature can bring together people from a multitude of backgrounds but all with a common interest. Indeed, similar to the Greeks, intellectual discussion and philosophical musings are often fortfied, or perhaps hindered, by beer and wine. In other words, they can be quite social occasions too.

As an educator, coach and someone who is actively engaged in undertsanding the learning process I think it is highly valuable that people can attend forums of this nature. Observing those in attendance as they eagerly went from one session to the next, it suggested to me that a desire to engage is a powerful catalyst on the pathway to enlightenment. Without that motivation, it could be somewhat akin to being back in a classroom. Likewise, without debate and inquiry, our knowledge can become staggnant, prone to bias and hence our view of the world potentially narrows. I look forward to seeing many more symposiums on the calendar and as importanly, having the time to attend and share.

Photo: Simon Willis

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