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Rolling: A bad idea?

Now that I have your attention, I have to get something off my chest:

I was in another town talking to a retailer this past weekend. He intimated to me that he thought my teaching rolls to my students is irresponsible in that it might give them a "false sense of security", and wouldn't help them in a situation when the you-know-what hits the fan.

I was flabbergasted.

I've never advocated to him or anyone else that a roll is a cure-all, but a very, (and I do mean very) important tool in a full bag of tricks. He actually had the temerity to tell me, "You know, one of your students someday is going to drown on Flathead Lake because you tried to teach them how to roll, and it will fail on them." I could have decked him. He just wouldn't listen to me that a roll is one step in an important progression, and the bracing, sculling, and balance skills leading to the knowledge of a roll, and the deepening of one's understanding of those skills continues to build after the roll is learned. I told him that I never tell people that rolling is the only thing they'll ever need (common sense being the #1 safety tool), and that I start off teaching people self- and assisted recovery skills before ever venturing into rolls.

He said, "Yeah, but once they learn to roll, they leave their paddlefloats at home".

(I didn't ask him how many paddlefloats he actually sells...probably less than 10 per year). I asked him how many people he even teaches to perform paddlefloat rescues, and he said, "Well, you know, I don't have time for that". And here he is, knocking the need for a roll.

I told him that I won't ever stop teaching the roll, and that I try to teach my students everything I can, so they have a multitude of options and skills if something goes wrong.

I feel like I handled it pretty well, but this situation really chapped my butt. I'm also disappointed that I had the opportunity to "confront evil" at one of its sources, but I wasn't prepared with good counter-arguments. I have pretty good respect for this guy as a human being, but every time I have contact with him in a "professional" (paddling) setting, I lose more and more respect for him. He is, right or wrong, a role model, and a poor one at that. And I'm beginning to rethink my attitude toward him as a human.


Safe paddling, (and Roll On!)