Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being invited to mentor at the Traditional Inuit Paddlers of the Southeast Greenland Retreat, TIPS for short. TIPS is held in South Carolina near the city of Columbia. This year it was held at the Youth Leadership Center, a facility run by Clemson University in Aiken SC.

TIPS is a Qajaq USA sanctioned event organized by Fran and Fern, two avid Traditional paddlers who have immersed themselves in the culture of Greenland Style paddling. Fran is a Qajaq USA board adviser and has been working alongside me on the Events Committee. I met her last year at Delmarva so it was good to catch up and discuss how things are progressing with our committee’s mission to revitalize the Qajaq USA events.

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I flew into Columbia and was met by Fran’s husband, who turned out to also be the events official photographer. We drove the 40 minutes to the camp through lovely green countryside, with glorious blue sky and rising temperatures. Throughout the weekend the weather was spectacular reaching the upper 80’s Fahrenheit. There were two large dorm cabins, men in one and women in the other. At the center of the camp facing the lake was a large hall which we used for presentations, Allunaariaqattaarneq (Greenland rope gymnastics), the obligatory fund raising auction, and early morning yoga.

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We I arrived there were already many people in the water so I jumped in alongside Dubside and Ed and helped people work on their rolling. It was my privilege to work with Gunnar Jentzsch who is a German national now living in Mexico. Gunnar was able to get a robust hand roll and throughout the weekend worked with all the mentors and I believe also got his Norsamik Masikkut (forward finishing norsaq roll). A very impressive feat, especially as he taught himself to roll from videos and reading.

I really liked how TIPS de-emphasized rolling and provided opportunities for forward stroke development, maneuvering, harpoon throwing, ropes, paddle making, as well as presentations on history, Greenland competition etc. This really allowed the attendees to get a rounded view of Greenland style kayaking.

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TIPS is the youngest and consequentially the smallest Qajaq USA sanctioned event. That comes with the disadvantage of a smaller budget, but the huge advantage that everyone became family, and were able to experience all aspects of the event. At one point over half the attendees were in the lake learning forward finishing rolls, while the other half were learning forward strokes.  Many thanks to Ed, Dave and Dubside plus of course Fran and Fern for all their hard work in making this such a treat to be a part of. I hope to be back at TIPS soon.

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Images courtesy Chuck Symes

Qajaq Camp 2015
Shrike-Skin Qajaq

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