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Shawna & Leon In Wisconsin

Posted Feb 20 2006 12:00am
I try to socialize, but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.
Then the teacher told me, it had been a lot of fun.
Thanked me for his ticket, and all that I had done.
Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
- tull
It’s not too early to start thinking about the summer sea kayak symposiums in the Midwest! Certainly one of the highlights this year will be the attendance of Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme’ at the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium June 15th thru the 18th this summer in Washburn, Wisconsin.

The first time I’d heard of Shawna and Leon was when I attended my ACA ICE and the instructor-trainer (IT) first started talking about the concept of “body, boat, blade” which was as far as I know coined by them and is of course the name of their paddling school on Orcas Island in Washington state. Since then of course “Body, boat, blade” has become a standard part of the kayaking vernacular. So these days you can’t teach an intro class without inadvertently advertising their school!!

Then like many of us I became more familiar with them when I saw them featured in Justine Curgenven’s video, “This Is The Sea”. I remember getting a really nice feeling about them from that. It’s their fault that the first thing I did when I got to the Pacific ocean was to put a big ole leafy chunk of Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) in my mouth! Well, it’s not too bad. . . kinda like slimy spinach. .

The down side of seeing them on the DVD first of course, was that it made it particularly nerve wracking when I actually had a class with Shawna at the NORCAL symposium in 2004. I was sort of star-struck. But I came away from that event setting Shawna up as one of my teaching “roll models”. Shawna’s teaching style is really quite amazing. You could certainly talk about method and skill, but what I was enamored with was her obvious joy and excitement for the whole process. I have frozen memory of her asking, “How’d that work for you?, Good, Yah!? ” with a big anticipatory smile. (Must be those Minnesota roots.) She genuinely projected joy at seeing students succeed in every little step. This is something I endeavor to emulate in each class I teach. I don’t want to get into a rhythm of routine methodologies. From there everything goes down hill! Oddly, I’ve seen coaches who use the word “fun” as in, “We’re here to have fun!!”, yet the phrase has become part of their routine and has lost all sense of actual “fun”. I don’t want that to happen!! Since that experience in Bodega bay, I’ve talked to many people who have come away from her classes feeling exactly how I did. That in itself speaks well for her.

At Inland Sea, Leon and Shawna will be offering a presentation of their 2003 circumnavigation of Iceland. You may remember that they did this trip with Chris Duff in those bad ass black Explorers. They will also be instructing some classes as far as I know now.

Personally I’m pretty excited about having them here. I was quick to zip out an email to the organizers to beg for the opportunity to shadow them a bit if possible, as I expect to be instructing and guiding at Inland Sea again this year as well. I relish an opportunity to borrow and steal any thing I can from their bag of tricks. :)

For more Information Visit
Inland Sea Society
Body, Boat, Blade International
Shawna Franklin Prints
This Is The Sea
Bull Kelp

* image by justine curgenven used by permission. Thank you!

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