Friday, November 15, 2013

Sharks and Minnows

Every winter in small boating communities like the one we live in, you can invariably find a "roll session" happening at the local swimming pool one night a week, where people bring their kayaks to practice rolling and have a warm place to keep their paddling technique in shape over the winter. Roll session is a Monday night winter ritual in our family.
A happy standard winter time Monday night for our family!

Charlotte started going to roll sessions when she got her first kayak at 3 1/2 years old- a Fluid Vaya, a fantastic kids sit on top with full whitewater capabilities. She enjoys roll session, sometimes more than others. Some nights she wants to spend all her time just swimming, and it can be a challenge to keep her in her boat, though for the most part we find a good balance between paddling practice and swimming privileges.
An early roll session in the Vaya

Paddling the Vaya down the Green River

What is so great about the Vaya is that it can take her so far without having to worry about anything involved with a decked boat, (wet exiting, using a skirt, learning to roll, etc...) which is why we opted to get a Vaya as her first boat. Now the quintessential kids kayak is the Jackson Fun1, and we knew that eventually she would transition into one, but were in no hurry to get her one. But then, as life works in the funny ways it does, one popped up last week in basically brand spanking new condition for an unbeatable price, so we jumped on it! 

When Monday night rolled around, Charlotte wanted to take her new boat to the roll session, and as soon as she got in that edgy little boat she took off like a rocket! Learning to paddle a bigger more conservative boat gave her the upper hand advantage when getting into a more sporty boat for the first time. She was turning on a dime and had speed like I had never seen her get in the Vaya. Charlotte was having lots of fun getting to know her new boat, but like always needed some swim time.
Taking off in the Fun1 for the first time!

Having fun with a friend during some swim time!
getting back in for another round of paddling!

After a few rounds of swimming/paddling rotations it was getting on in the evening & she hit that wall of "I don't want to paddle any more." Just then, all the other boats in the pool suddenly started sprinting from one side to the other, with what looked like one chaser. Her interest suddenly peaked by the excitement and laughter, I told her to paddle over and ask what game they were playing. Brandon, the owner of RMOC, and organizer of the rolls sessions explained to her all about sharks and minnows and how to play. Everyone starts out as minnows, except for one shark. Every boat the shark bumps becomes another shark, that can then chase other minnows. The goal as a minnow is to get to the other side without becoming a shark!
Concentrating! Playing hard!

Charlotte got super into the game and spent the last half hour of roll session thoroughly engaged in paddling, chasing and dodging, spinning and sprinting, sharking and minnowing! I don't think she has ever had quite so much fun at roll session as she did that night. I think it was a combination of applying acquired skills to a more responsive craft, coupled with the excitement of being a part of a game, and being able to play that game! As for me, I find it so rewarding to watch her skills blossom and the fun factor grow right along side them. Also... hurray for sharks & minnows!