Well buckaroos, it's been a while. The cowgirl took a couple of weeks off for a well-deserved vacation, before coming back to NYC and diving right into a certification course.
Why get certified? I've known plenty of paddlers who are really good, yet are not formally certified, or who once were but let it slip by. I've also known some people who were certified, but who did not really know what they were doing. Out on the trail, it's the skills and not the paper that will keep you upright and headed in the right direction.
That said, there is something to formal instruction. I've been fortunate to have a variety of coaches in a variety of settings. There is a distinct difference in the experience of a structured learning approach as opposed to some talented cowhand showing you some rope tricks. The latter is good for working on specific skills, while the former, done well, ties it all together.
I enjoy sharing knowledge and experience. While I consider myself an intermediate paddler, there are people who come to me for tips and advice. It's hard not to mimic my own coaches and pass down the oral traditions I have received.
Thus, it is with more than a little pride that I can say I passed an introductory coaching exam. I passed a Level 2 ACA Coastal Kayaking Instructor exam. There's some paperwork to go through, and I'm being careful about doing more teaching than assessing, but it's nice to say that after two full weekends, not to mention the cumulative experience of the past eight years and my various coaches, I'm finally certified to teach the sport I love.