Monday, May 18, 2015

14th annual retreat

 Imagine a tiny village full of people sharing interest in paddle sport. Every driveway adorned with canoes and kayaks. Drysuits and wet gear; hung haphazardly along each cabin's vestibule. Envision a friendly chat awaiting at each cabin's porch; usually with a few choices of poison flowing in the down time. Our dozen or so cabins nestled just on the edge of Terra nova National park transformed into this idyllic paddle community for the 14th annual retreat.

 After a night of a few drams, conversation, and a excellent spread of food; we awoke early to take to the brine of Clode sound in Charlottetown. Under beautiful summer like conditions we departed in our groups. I commented to our guest coach James Roberts as we launched this was by far the most beautiful may 24 weekend I had ever seen in my life.

 However...... The sea began to grow as a NE wind pushed down the sound. It didn't take long for it to kick up past the comfort of some of the less experienced paddlers and a good call was made by the trip leads to pull off the ocean early, one capsize near the impromptu take out evidence of their good call. People were ferried back to their vehicles as myself and a few lads played in the waves paddling back to the original take out on our own time.

 What was great to see was an atmosphere of inclusion on the day paddle. The more experienced helping folks having trouble. Tip's on paddle strokes shouted over the building wind and sea. It was really great to see such community of subsumption thriving in the 1m breaking wind waves. Back at our paddler town we finished up our evening watching the award winning film a paddlers pilgrimage courtesy of James; then turned in for the night.

Bright and early the next am we took to the aptly named Sandy pond for a skill's day. Hearing "I got it!" screamed in excitement by a paddler in a balance brace was exciting to hear. The lad's taught rescues and Greenland paddling as canoest flipped many a canoe learning their bracing. I spent the morning rolling in the warm pond waters....Not a bad way to spend a day.

We had a wonderful chilli lunch and after a day on the pond retreated back to our cabins.After a more formal roast beef supper we settled in for a thought provoking presentation by Kevin Redmond on "Place", being a outsider, and resettled communities. I think everyone picked some place out his beautiful photography on resettled towns to visit in the coming paddling season. 

As I packed up my car to head home after such a stellar weekend offers of paddles down in central, plans to visit my neck of the woods danced among handshakes and pats on the back. A big thanks to our presenters and coaches who made the weekend enjoyable. Not to mention the folks from PNL who organized this retreat. 

A date certainly marked on the calendar for next year.