We recently caught up with Daniel D., an L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools (ODS) instructor from our Victor, NY store, who was excited to jump on board (literally) to share his love for paddleboarding and his excitement for teaching new skills.
What made you want to be an ODS Instructor?
Growing up in the Adirondacks, I have been partaking in outdoor recreation and paddling for as long as I can remember. Given the opportunity to educate and teach others about the fun and excitement that can be experienced, I didn’t hesitate. Kayaking or paddleboarding for the first time is a real sense of accomplishment for many of our participants. I enjoy being a part of that.
What is your favorite outdoor activity to do, and your favorite to teach?
I would have to say my favorite outdoor activity would be canoe racing, however my favorite activity to teach is easily stand-up paddleboarding. I enjoy seeing how excited the participants get when they stand up for the first time. Seeing the thrill on their face is priceless.
What is the best outdoor trip you’ve ever taken?
Far too many trips to choose from, but if I had to choose just one I would have to say competing in the Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile canoe race through the Adirondack Park. It’s a three-day event surrounded by amazing people, gorgeous scenery, and remarkable memories.
What is your claim to fame among the other ODS Instructors?
I am known for my silly antics on the paddleboard and my ability to paddle pretty much anything that floats. On a professional level, I am known for being able to provide the participants with the technical skills required for the sport while at the same time keeping the learning environment light hearted and enjoyable, even if that means I have to break out my corny jokes.
How do you stay motivated and still have fun when the weather isn’t cooperating?
Personally, the more bizarre the weather is, the more I enjoy the paddling. It adds a level of excitement and adventure to the experience. Odds are most people can say they’ve paddled on a nice sunny lake, but how many people can say they’ve paddled in the snow, or a torrential down pour, or even in a hailstorm? As long as the conditions are safe and you are dressed appropriately, I guarantee the experience will be memorable.
You meet lots of people just starting out in a new activity, any advice for a newbie?
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to get wet! Step outside of your comfort zone and explore the boundaries of your balance. The more time you spend on the board the more comfortable you’ll be. You will fall, you will get wet, but most importantly you will laugh. Don’t just get on the board and paddle; make it an adventure. Keep getting on the board and keep smiling!