Day 119: My first day on the job.

So I have a pretty sweet summer gig, I’m not going to lie. I am a kayak instructor for L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools. Today was my first official kayak-instructing day, and I loved it. My arms are a bit burnt, my muscles are a bit tired, and my hair is a frizzy mess, but my day at the lake was well worth these damages.

Now there’s no way I could describe my day in its entirety and still have you as a loyal reader, so I’ll just try to give you some highlights of the day and some aspects of the day that I hope are never highlighted.

The best part of the day, by far, (and just maybe the whole reason the day was awesome) was getting to work with my friend, Chelsea. Yes, the very same crazy woman that went hiking with me to watch the sunrise. Chelsea is actually the one who encouraged me to get the job, as she’s been doing it for years and loves it. It was really awesome getting to hang out with her, and she’s a great teacher- very patient and communicative.

We had two kayaking groups that we took out, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and during our chill time in the middle we ate a delicious lunch and rocked out to some music. This, of course, was after we were able to finally separate ourselves from “the runaway”, the woman with the runaway tongue that will talk to you for hours if you let her.

Now the worst part of the day, by far, was unloading, maneuvering, and loading the kayaks into the Bean trailer. 19 kayaks! Count ’em. Nineteen! And we’re not talking your super cheap, super light, child-sized kayak. Some of these kayaks are big, and some are bigger still. It didn’t help that the shoreline was about 50 yards from the trailer and downhill. While this decline made it easy to pull the kayaks down to the shore during set-up, it made it even harder pulling them back up to the trailer after a hot day of paddling. Also, because I was the end guide for the group, I had the lovely privilege of pushing the paddlers off of the shoreline and into the water. I want you to try pushing 14 kayakers (some twice your size) into the water. I had to desperately conceal the fact that I was winded. Nobody wants to see their guide and potential rescuer incapable of taking in oxygen.

Another not-so-fun part of the day was this ugly spider that we had to kill in the trailer. Let’s not talk about it.

So going into the day, I was a bit nervous. Not because I wasn’t confident in what I knew or what I could bring to the table, but because I just didn’t know what the process looked like. I was nervous of the unknown.

As it turns out, the day went fantastically. Well… except for the incident with the big guy that capsized. And maybe the porta-potty situation. Just kidding. Nothing happened.

One thing that was neither good nor bad, but just funny, was when so many of our paddlers would ask me questions about what kind of kayak they should get for this or for that, and why this feature is better than another. Now, I’ve been kayaking for about 10 years now, but it hasn’t been until my training with L.L. Bean that I’ve started to learn all the technical details about the actual kayaks themselves. So although I know some information, there is still a lot to learn, and I don’t know it all. This made answering our paddlers’ questions very interesting. I might not know the answer to a question, but I do know how to pad an answer so it sound like the right answer. This I learned in college.

I ended up just repeating all the basic information I knew about the kayaks over and over again if it had any relativity to the question, and somehow they were fine with that. I mean, what I was telling them was true and was much more than what they knew, so even if I did repeat it 3 times in 3 different ways to make it sound better, it’s a win-win situation.

And another win-win situation of the day? I got to meet and hang out with some really fun people and kids, spend time in the beautiful outdoors, and kayak on a beautiful lake. And I was getting paid for it.

Funny story: my uniform. I have now become “that woman”. The one that wears the ugly, boy-looking water sandals, the “park ranger” khaki shorts (thank goodness there’s no pleats!), the button-down “I’m an outdoor recreation professional” shirt, and of course, the good ‘ol hat.

Sorry I kept forgetting to take pictures of me during the day, but after that description, I don’t blame you for thanking my forgetfulness.

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2 Comments on “Day 119: My first day on the job.”

  1. Chelsea Knechel Says:

    Ughhh—pleats. Ew.

    Sarah- YOU WERE SO GREAT TODAY and you will continue to grow as you go! You’re off to a wonderful start.

    You go girl.

  2. Paul Schoneveld Says:

    Sounds like a blast! Makes me miss my days working as a camp counselor.


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