A review of the first-ever UP Expedition Guide Course

SIAN SYKES writes about her experience of being part of the first group to take the Water Skills Academy (WSA) SUP Expedition Guide Training Course.



Sian Sykes was part of the first group to take the Water Skills Academy (WSA) SUP Expedition Guide Training Course.

I WAS DELIGHTED to be part of the first group to join the Water Skills Academy (WSA) SUP Expedition Guide Training Course. The first course of its kind! The course has been designed to give people the skills and confidence to lead commercial and personal expeditions on a paddleboard on big open water in remote and wilderness environments as part of multi day journeys. The award also focusses on the key essential skills to travel and lead safely, ethically and with confidence.


The course was run by Joules Burnard, Ben Longhurst and Chris Rea, all part of the WSA family who have a great wealth of experience with SUP and paddling expeditions. The course was based in Glencoe which is a perfect location to venture out to learn, develop and practice news skills in a true wilderness environment by paddling on inland lochs and sea lochs. As part of the first group to undertake the training course we all had different backgrounds. With this varied pool of people it was great we could all contribute and learn from the the team at WSA and also from each other. The course was a great opportunity to understand the remit of the award too.


The reason why I was keen to sign onto the course was because I have lead expeditions all over the world however I was really keen to gain a SUP specific qualification to add to my portfolio of qualifications and to add extra credibility too. It was also great to gain handy top tips for group management and kit which was beneficial. It was great to also have the Leave No Trace award incorporated as part of the Expedition Guide course which is a perfect fit as it goes hand in hand to be environmentally conscious whilst on expedition, to be aware on how we can reduce our impact on the environment and of course to be role models to our customers in hope they feel inspired too.


The course was a mixture of classroom and out on the water. It was great to be able to put the theory into practise with days learning, testing out new techniques and skills with also the chance to lead the group too.


The four-day course covered a range of topics in the world of stand up paddle and expedition planning.

During the 4 day course we covered a range of topics:


  • – Expedition Kit
    – Expedition Planning
    – Weather
    – Leave No Trace
    – Legal/paper work
    – Expedition food
    – Health and hygiene
    – Leadership
    – Group management
    – Navigating including night navigating
    – Campcraft
    – Incident management
    – Shelters


During the four days the group had a superb time paddleboarding in such stunning locations with such a wild element as we were faced with hail, snow, rain, strong wind, a true Scottish winter welcome to us and we loved it. The highlights were seeing otters, sea eagle, surrounded by curious seals, night navigating in hail, wild camping in snow, hanging out with a great bunch of like minded folk and learning new tricks of the trade. So an awesome course and we are psyched to go for the assessment to be the creme de la creme of SUP expedition guides.


To sum up the course inspiring, relaxing, informative, friendly and exciting.


Psyched to do it?


Visit WSA website www.waterskillsacademy.com for more info.

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