Retirement: Part 2
Retirement is transition. You stop doing one thing and move on to another. Few people I know have turned an active life into an inactive one. Yes, you may remove some stressors, or at least change to ones of your own choosing, but maybe you gain some more control of the direction of your life moving forward. When I retired twelve and a half years ago from working for the State of NC after thirty years of service as a water quality biologist, within a month I was certified as an ACA whitewater kayaking instructor and back on the road, teaching.
In subsequent years came certification (and teaching) as a Whitewater Kayaking Instructor Trainer, then Instructor Trainer Educator, Tandem Canoe Instructor, Advanced Whitewater Kayaking Instructor, River Safety and Rescue Instructor, Coastal Kayaking Instructor and Coastal Kayaking Instructor Trainer.
I served two terms on ACA’s Board of Directors including two years as the Secretary of ACA, two years as ACA Board/SEIC liaison and two terms as ACA’s River Kayaking Committee Chair and have been an affiliate member contributor to ACA’s Coastal Kayaking Committee. I helped start the now-defunct (Hey, I tried!) professional ACA Journal of Paddlesports Education to encourage professional collaboration and publication by ACA instructors and tried to do my own part by writing, publishing and sharing a lot of original ideas and material on TriangleKayak.com. While working with ACA, I set up the facebook page “Do One Thing for Paddling” to encourage individual contribution to the paddlesports; much as an offshoot of my personal commitment to clean at least 1,000 plastic bottles from rivers and streams every year (which I’ve done, every year since).
Early in this period, I served two terms as President of the Carolina Canoe Club, on its Board for several more years, and for several years, as Vice-President of Falls Whitewater Park Committee, Inc. For a couple of years now, I’ve been a member of the Carolina Kayak Club‘s training committee.
My personal commitment to educational standards in my work led to me rounding out this second career being invited to serve as an Instructor Trainer (and Educator) for one of the world’s most active ACA instructor training companies; Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company in Reston, VA. CKAPCO shares these high standards and Mike Aronoff takes pride in the quality of instructors teaching under its name.
All this leads me to my point that I’m going to give retirement another chance to stick. I will be retiring from teaching and sunsetting all of my ACA certifications today, December 31, 2019.
It’s been a great 12 years. In that time I’ve taught 190 reported paddlesports classes (and many more informal/unreported) and worked with a lot of individuals in formal and informal coaching sessions. I’ve certified or been involved in the certification of ~150 ACA instructors and have mentored five very talented Instructors through to their own Instructor Trainer certifications. Take bows, in order: C.C. Williams, Chris Wing, Francheska Hebden, Lyda Wing and Mike Tossing. It was a true honor for me for each of you to invite me as your mentor.
I have tried to provide my very best value to each and every instructor by helping you meet the letter and spirit of ACA’s instructor criteria so that you could be proud of wearing that title.
Adding to the personal richness I gained from every one of those people I want to thank my own mentors Robin Pope and Mike Aronoff for setting the bar high for me and allowing me to pass along such a rich pedigree of learning and teaching. From you I learned (and passed on) the importance of fundamentals and innovative teaching techniques) I endorse any of these folks named above to provide instructors future support or mentoring.
No mention of ACA would be complete without it including Kelsey Bracewell. You’ve been the face of ACA Safety Education and Instruction and have done everything in your power to help each and every one of us every day while carrying the weight of ACA instructors on your shoulders. Thank you!
Thank you as well many of the businesses and organizations I’ve worked for. I hope I provided you with good service. Thanks to Chuck Arkell for inviting me to teach (and to enter the business of teaching) with Paddle Creek. Thanks to the City of Raleigh and City of Rock Hill for asking me to help develop your staff. Thanks to YMCA Camps Seagull and Seafarer for many years of return visits to develop your staff. Thanks for a couple of years developing your river staff, Canopy Ridge Farm. Thanks to NC Parks for asking me to update many of your Parks’ instructor staff. Thanks to Get:Outdoors and particularly the enthusiastic ladies of Go:WoW for bringing passion to our sport. Thanks to River Sport for bringing me all the way to the Youghiogheny to help you develop instructors there.
Special thanks to local paddling clubs who encourage and promote paddlesports education. You’re the life blood of paddling. It’s been an honor to have been invited to teach for Carolina Canoe Club, Carolina Kayak Club, Palmetto Paddlers, Tennessee Valley Canoe Club and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association.
Thanks to all of the paddlers (many of whom are now my closest friends) who’ve formally or informally asked for, or suffered through my paddling advice over the years: Wanting to help others achieve their goals comes hand-in-hand with being a dedicated teacher. I hope you don’t mind. I’m terribly proud of many of you whom I’ve had the recurring opportunity to coach. Some of you have become better paddlers than I ever was. That’s a badge of honor for me.
I’ve named names in the past of the core group of friends and mentors who took Nancy and me under their wings when we started paddling with CCC. You know who you are. Know my desire to pay it forward came from you. #teamfancypants
From here, I’m going to try to paddle for myself more, as I’m able, as age keeps creeping up on me. I want to get out and do whitewater and coastal. I want to kayak/canoe camp. I want to get back into a tent and onto a trail. I want to get into the sky and see it all from 5,500 feet (or 4,500 feet if my magnetic course is 180˚-359˚ [pilots will get that]) or remotely from <400 feet AGL. Follow along at larryausley.com as I rebuild and contribute to the newest leaves of life.