Gandalf with a Paddle

  Feb 17   Outdoors

Sometimes I’m a mediocre teacher.  I stutter.  I talk too fast.  I skip around topics like a pinball, only to realize my students aren’t connecting the dots.  Since I often teach outdoor skills, like paddling a sea kayak, the mediocrity also displays in my “less than perfect” ability to model strokes.  Insert “sad face with a little tear” emoji.

Where am I falling short?  Typically, a well-executed workshop requires preparation:  curriculum, location, consideration for weather, communication, to name a few.  I have all that.  I have my certifications and my years of experience.  I feed and water myself appropriately.  I pack my gear ahead of time.  I get plenty of sleep.  Needless to say, I am prepared.

Wrong!  It turns out I was missing something all along.  Recently, I was at a conference and was called upon to teach an impromptu introductory Stand-Up-Paddleboard workshop for 12 people.  Guess what….I nailed it.  No preparation.  My topics flowed gracefully together, I felt creative with the resources at hand, the students were engaged, and I had the mobility to model the strokes well. 

What was the key ingredient?  Exercise.  I had just finished a trail run before teaching.  FOR REAL, it was like someone waved a magic wand and I turned into a clear-headed, mobile, calm, creative, teaching wizard!  Like Gandalf with a paddle.

Research shows that regular physical activity not only has physiological benefits, but it also helps your brain!  You’ll think more clearly, you’ll have Jedi-focus, and you’ll be sharper than that little tack holding your syllabus to the bulletin board.

All it takes is movement.  We’re all human, we all have bodies, and all bodies need to move.  Live in Motion!

- Jackie Matthews, Coordinator – Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education