Well folks, this is it. No more BCU Level 3 Coach (Sea) assessments for me, and soon no more assessments in this vein after the 31st December. It has been a tremendous honour to have facilitated, and participated in, the assessment of over 100 coaches, from both the UK and overseas.
I have been very fortunate to have worked alongside some very fine people too, who have been fair minded and thorough in their assessment of these candidates. And whilst not everyone has been successful on their first attempt, those that have come back have done so because of the extended support offered to them. BCU coaches are part of a larger network, being a Level 3 coach is more than just a badge of honour, it is both a way of life and a philosophy.
And so it was that Micky, Richard, Chris, Danny and David presented themseleves for assessment on the 6th December in Trearddur Bay having braved the awful weather and driving conditions. Along with this, Gary, David and Mike were present to complete their BCU 4* Sea assessment. Again, it was great to have another Canadian candidate, this time Chris Lockyer from Nova Scotia who had successfully gone through the APL process and therefore able to attend.
Nick Cunliffe and Aled Williams made up the rest of the assessment team along with myself. We were also graced with the company of Ulrika Larsson from Sweden who was observing the assessment process.
Aled took the 4* candidates out to South Stack and back, to assess personal skills and some leadership dimensions including navigation. Nick and I divided up the Level 3 candidates to examine their skills as educators and engage them is discussion about the coaching process, as well as looking at their ability to present useful information to the students (made up of the faithful and keen from Snowdonia Canoe Club).
Even though the conditions where somewhat chilly and at times damp due to the rain, the candidates and the students remained in good spirits throughout. As ever, Nick and I observed a range of approaches to passing on the knowledge and skills of sea kayaking, which in many ways reflected the nature and experiences of those doing the coaching.
Sunday saw the assessment team and candidates gather at Borthwen. Again, Rhoscolyn is an ideal venue for such assessments as it offers a full range of conditions and crossings that will test any leader, and catch the unprepared off guard. And so it was, in the company of Aled and Ulrika, we set out for the Beacon and then Rhoscolyn Head whilst Nick took on the 4* team.
As to be expected, we were not the only assessment taking place on the water that weekend, having bumped into Trys Burke (ne Morris) who is a Community Coach Development Officer for Canoe Wales Trys was also running a 4* assessment with a number of local club paddlers. I think it actually helped our candidates get some perspective, in that they were not the only ones with a grim look of terror in their eyes. Trys is actually a big softy but she knows how to make a candidate work for their pass.
Those that have followed past reports will know this day is about effective leadership, shaping a good course and dealing with issues and problems. Each candidate took it in turns to lead, guide and manage the others. With Aled on board, creative yet realistic scenarios were also on the cards, which everyone dealt with succesfully, and in one case, with good humour associated with paddle float disasters.
Despite the efforts of some candidates to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, on this occasion everyone managed to redeem themselves having been scrutinised by three assessors. Its is always a welcome and pleasant end to such assessments, but this one in particular, to say well done to one and all on their hard efforts and successes :o)
I'd like to take this as an opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the likes of Nick Cunliffe, Aled Williams, Dave Evans, Pete Jones, Nigel Dennis, Dave Brown, Mike Devlin, Adam Harmer and Trys Burke (ne Morris), as well as many others besides, who have had a tremendous impact on me as a both a trainer and assessor.
Thanks also go out to Kokatat, Tiderace and Mitchell Blades for whom I am an ambassador and whose equipment and clothing has kept me comfortable, dry and happy on the water throughout the year. Pete Baars of Summit to Sea on Anglesey also earns a mention in dispatches for his help with supplying candidates with equipment and providing quality retail services.
Get in touch if you are interested in completing a BCU assessment course or just wish to look at your skills development in a boat.
More pictures of this course available here