How a kayak school operates in a foreign country


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Being the leader of a traveling, kayaking high school may not have the most favorable job description. Things may come to mind like: baby sitter, accountant, negotiator, scout, and medic. Being multiple professions at once takes its turn on some one, but there is a cure. David Hughes has transformed his job into an art of Rembrandt proportions. He keeps New River Academy operating like a well trained army, with everyone in their place and doing the right job. Forget the artist metaphor, lets go with the army one for this article.

Dave is the General of this army. He directs people what to do, when to do it, where. He says sit, we sit. He says stand, I stand. He says jump, I say what color. Dave definitely knows how to keep us in line. Apart from being the general however, he is also like a paratrooper; first in behind enemy lines, clearing the path, getting a base ready. Dave did not really have a autumn break, after a few days he and Tino flew down here to get everything ready. He traveled to our destinations, negotiated prices, scouted rivers and making connections. After a week of traveling around Chile, getting ready for the land invasion, we drop on in ready to take the country by storm. Bright eyed and cheery faced Dave briefs us on our mission and we get ready to do our jobs to keep the army marching.

Its not just Dave and Tino who lead this army, the other staff members have their place. Andy keeps track of group expenses and hours of school (yes we do actually do school down here, it not all fun and games). Matt is in charge of media dispersal like photos, videos, and other means of getting our name out there. Melina is kind of like a public relations person to us students; she has the best techniques to deal with stress, and is really good to talk to if you are troubled by something. The staff members do are not limited to just these jobs though they can swap out if the time requires it to be such.

New River Academy does hit a snag every once and a while along the way. Our transportation may break down. Our gear may break, or Dave needs to renegotiate a price for our lodging after the operator talks to his wife about the ludicrous deal he gave the gringos and she gets a little upset. We try our best, both students and staff, to let these times go as smoothly as possible and not get frustrated with each other while we a re traveling. That may be the hardest thing for a leader, when a group gets frustrated with each other. I have not seen that personally here yet and I really hope that it does not happen. When we are traveling around in a foreign country, to take full advantage of the area and its beauty it is best to keep the army marching smoothly, happily onward.

Read about other adventures with Matt Hill at his blog on NRA

See you on the water!

Staff Post
Paddlers writing about all things paddling.


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