Rating the NCSP/LDC River Safety Training
by Pattie Mihalik
a journalist, I'm trained not to write with adjectives: Just present the facts
and let the reader be the judge. But
it's hard for me to avoid superlatives when writing about the river training
offered by Ken Heaphy and his assistants.
starts the class with the basics, including how to properly tie down a boat to a
car and proceeds to paddling skills and safety lessons. It's obvious that this
veteran instructor has honed his teaching skills to the point where he knows how
to optimize the learning experience of each and every class member.
this yearís class gathered for the first day of instruction at Washington
Crossing State Park, it was immediately evident that we varied greatly in
experience. We had those who were never in a kayak before -- they rented one for
the class, and those who were experienced paddlers. All came for the same
reason: Because they know they can learn a lot from Ken Heaphy and his
learn they did! Regardless of how
much or how little one knew coming into class, we all agreed we left with much
more paddling skill and confidence. I, for one, progressed from saying,
"I'm never going to do that," to "That was fun. I want to do it
I liked about Ken Heaphy's teaching style was that he first had us practice each
skill on dry land, then in the water.
a while, I didn't know which would come first for me -- social security,
retirement or learning a duffek. So far, social security might be winning.
Ken has three teaching methods that work: Repetition, repetition, repetition!
Class members appreciated the fact that when he told us something for the
32nd time, it was with the same patience as when he told us the first time.
thing we appreciated about the course was the number of assistant instructors to
help us. That gave us much one-on-one instruction, especially paddling the S.
Branch Raritan and Delaware Rivers.
things we liked about the class: Those using Canoes and Kayaks were separated --
each with top-rate instructors. Ken Heaphy's insistence that we try each other's
boats was also worthwhile.
to my enjoyment was the help and encouragement from other class members,
especially Mary Fillius who even shared her new paddle with me. Both she and
Lennie Fillius, an instructor, helped to nudge my learning experience up a
class was downright fun! Every minute of it.
But the mark of a good teacher is how long his lessons "stick."
I can personally attest to the fact that Kenís and Lennieís lessons
linger long after the class ends.
week after class was over, I joined in the Lehigh River Sojourn. Ken was nowhere
around, but I heard his voice clearly in my head, saying: Lean into the rock.
And I heard Lennie's voice saying: "Put more torso into your stroke."
value of Ken Heaphy's River Safety class is Priceless! I've
learned why people say, if you take the class, you'll learn so much that you'll
want to do it again. I only regret that it's such a long wait for the next years
Ken Heaphy and Lennie Fillius for offering the
best value around. And thanks to Mitzi and Leona for telling me about the Safety
a similar favor for others and help spread the word. Tell them about the
benefits of Ken Heaphy's river safety class. They'll thank you for