Friday, May 29, 2015

The Paddling Life

This article by Cindy Scherrer of Shellback Paddle Experience was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Paddle

Steve and Cindy Scherrer
Steve and I have been paddling enthusiasts for more than 30 years. Paddling has also become our pursuit of a “career” and creating more paddling enthusiasts is our mission. We were self-taught whitewater kayakers in the early days simply because we didn’t know anyone and there wasn’t much information available. We understood our limits and recognized the skills we needed to learn to advance and stay safe. Through chance encounters on local rivers and a popular paddling club, we met people and paddled as much as we could get away with. As the sport grew so did our circle of friends and our skills.

Steve is a natural born teacher/thinker. He’s got to figure it out and then test it on whoever is around, usually me. We opened a kayaking shop close to our home which was on the Sandy River. It turned out to be a perfect place to teach people a few skills. The evolutionary process was set in motion. Store sold equipment, store owner gave lessons and (surprise) store owner got to spend time on the river guiding trips. 

Our business was growing at a healthy pace as was kayaking. We decided to pursue a more systematic approach to our instruction program. Steve had the opportunity to get certified as an American Canoe Association whitewater kayak instructor in 1992. This was the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the ACA and getting the opportunity to work with many gifted trainers and educators. It was just what we needed to create a sustainable culture promoting paddlesports education.

Over the next 23 years Steve continued the journey through the ACA Instructor certification process to earn upper level certifications in various disciplines. They include: Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer, Advanced WW Kayak (L/5) Instructor Trainer Educator, Advanced Open Water Kayak (L/5) Instructor Trainer Educator, Stand Up Paddleboard (L/2) Instructor Trainer Educator.

After we sold the store I became certified as an Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor. We had the opportunity to travel and teach in different areas of the country working for Confluence Watersports. This was a great opportunity to cross pollinate by experiencing regional differences in paddling which contributed to our ability to stay current with trends and styles. We taught at kayak symposiums, worked demo events, and consulted for boat design and equipment development. It was great to be able to continue working with our many friends we had made over the years in the industry.

When Steve tried SUP he was immediately hooked by the freedom to move around and the challenge of it. It took me longer to be swayed. I thought a sea kayak was a much more efficient and worthy vessel. Once he was certified as an instructor and I once again the guinea pig, using his guileful charm and superior teaching methods he won me over, hook, line and sinker! So much so that I also became an ACA L2 SUP Instructor Trainer.

Last year we decided it was time for a change and we left our positions with Confluence and decided to keep spreading the ACA instructional message. Through Shellback Paddle Experience we plan to travel around the country specializing in ACA SUP teaching and training. We’ll see old friends and meet new ones, still chasing that paddling lifestyle career!

Visit and click on their Calendar to see where Steve and Cindy are teaching near you!

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