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What we’re Planning for 2024

2024 is here! The flip of the calendar brings with it the promise of fresh beginnings and untapped potential. The days have slowly begun to get longer again. Sanesh is exploring a new dimension to his career as a mechanical engineer in Zurich Switzerland, and I find myself at home in Victoria BC reflecting on the incredible journeys and experiences from the last year and dreaming of possibilities for the future. While Sanesh will be a continuing contributor to the blog and partner on future expeditions, I’ll be in the cockpit directing the majority of the ‘little paddle’ projects coming this year. It’s time to set goals not just for myself, but for our entire ‘little paddle’ family. From refining guiding skills to fostering environmental stewardship, and from enhancing the digital presence of alittlepaddle.ca to prioritizing personal well-being, each resolution will help to chart a course for the upcoming year. Cheezy metaphor time: let’s cross the eddy-line into the flood tide and steer towards growth, learning, and the promise of adventure.


Gorgeous sunset from my last expedition of 2023

Goal 1: Enhancing the ‘Little Paddle’ Guiding Experience

 

In the marine environment, the commitment to personal and professional growth is akin to navigating uncharted waters – it demands a willingness to embrace new challenges. This year I am committing to learning more about marine life, ecosystems, whitewater paddling, guiding leadership, and firearm safety. In the outdoor industry, certification is the main mechanism by which experience is demonstrated – so much of my learning in 2024 will be accomplished through the acquisition of new certs. Between February and July I’ll be taking a total of five courses and working towards a sixth certification as a guide trainer. In chronological order they are:

 

C.O.R.E – Firearm safety and conservation course

In preparation for our whitewater canoe expedition in the Northwest Territories this summer, I’ll be developing my safe firearm handling skills. The goal is to be confident in the use of a rifle as a bear deterrent.

 

S.R.T. – Swift water rescue technician

Also for our summer canoe expedition. This course will give me the confidence to manage any rescues we might encounter on the river.

 

C.I-A – Recertification of lake water canoe instructor

I first acquired this certification in 2015, so it’s due for an update. This will be helpful on my trip this summer as well as on the annual fall canoe course I lead.

 

M.E.R.S – Marine naturalist certification

Whales, whales, whales! After nearly a decade of leading on the water, I am excited to have finally secured a spot in this course so I can speak with more authority about the marine life around me.

 

P.C.I-2 – Paddle Canada level 2 instructor

The paddling techniques from this course will help me provide more value for participants on my trips and will allow me to offer courses through our website.

 

As guide, my role extends beyond group management; I am a storyteller, educator, leader, counselor, and much more. I hope to expand my knowledge base and acquire new certifications not as mere checkboxes on a list but intentional steps towards becoming a more proficient, informed, and responsible sea kayak guide.



Goal 2: Environmental Stewardship and Education

 

As an outdoor educator deeply connected to nature, fostering environmental stewardship among participants is a commitment to managing the impact I have on the environments through which I travel and to creating a positive impact on the planet. This year, I’ll be focussing on building resources, collaborating with local organizations, and looking inward at my own practices.

 

There's no question that the digital realm is an ever-expanding ocean of information, so developing online resources is a critical piece of comprehensive environmental education. I’ll be working on creating a resource for paddlers on the West coast to access information about the local Indigenous territories and low impact camping practices. The paddler resources area of alittlepaddle.ca will be updated and expanded throughout the year and beyond.

 

In the spirit of fostering cultural awareness and respect, territorial acknowledgments serve as the cornerstone of our online resources. It is important that we know where we are paddling and have a relationship with the stewards of the land so we will work to include acknowledgements and additional resources for every nation whose territory we traverse.


One of the great privileges of this journey has been spending time with amazing people practicing their culture.

I’ll also be making lessons based on the ‘low impact camping’ guide from the BC Marine Trails Network (BCMT). By educating our community about the importance of conservation and offering practical tips for reducing environmental impact, I hope to empower individuals to make informed choices that preserve natural habitats for future generations. I’ll also be completing a campsite mapping project with the BCMT and maintaining my commitment to being a ‘Coastal Caretaker’.


It's hard to understate the value of exposing people to the power and beauty of nature

Looking inwards at my own impact, I’ll be completing an audit of my carbon footprint and making changes as necessary. Even our little media ‘studio’ (heavy air quotes) and our online community has an impact that can be quantified. The information will be published in a blog post, so keep an eye out for it in the coming months. Environmental stewardship is an evolving journey so I will work to stay informed about the latest developments in conservation and environmental science. I am open to feedback and am happy to adapt my programs and resources to align with emerging environmental challenges and opportunities.


Goal 3: Growing alittlepaddle.ca

 

Embarking on a journey to expand alittlepaddle.ca's reach involves a multifaceted approach across YouTube, the members area, and live presentations/workshops.

 

On YouTube, I’ll be uploading long-form vlogs from our expedition to Alaska. I’m building towards a consistent upload schedule so we can be a hub for paddlers to get inspired for their adventures. On the website, I’ll be creating a members’ area which will host paddler resources, recipes, a forum for connecting with other members, and more. The tentative launch is set for the beginning of April! In the real world, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be hosting a workshop on boat repair and a presentation sharing stories from our expedition to Alaska at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival on February 24th. We have a few other workshops on the horizon for March and April, so stay tuned for those.



I’m really impressed with our site’s reach in 2023 and am excited to offer more this year. By broadening our online presence, I hope to foster a community passionate about paddling and outdoor education.


Goal 4: Personal Development

 

In my fast-paced world of sea kayak guiding, outdoor education, and blogging, prioritizing my well-being is key to ensuring I won’t implode. My goal is to take a more intentional role in both my physical and mental wellness.

 

The physical demands of sea kayaking require a resilient body. Joint mobility and strength will be my focus this year. A daily practice should prevent injury and ensure sustained energy and endurance during prolonged journeys. The mental fortitude required in guiding and entrepreneurship necessitates mindfulness and stress management. I’ll be setting more intentional boundaries at work and incorporating moments of reflection, enabling more presence and composure. Balancing the demands work and my personal life is daunting. This year, I’ve set aside meaningful chunks of personal time to break up the +120-day guiding season ahead.


Looking Ahead

 

It’s with nervous excitement that I send these goals out into the world. I have difficulty with commitment, so I hope that by typing these words, I am making myself accountable for what is to come in 2024.

 

In guiding, I am committed to expanding my knowledge, growing my list of industry certifications, and maintaining my relationships with the professional alliances of which I am a member. As a firm believer in the power of time spent outdoors, I pledge to build resources to help the ‘little paddle’ community connect with the land and sea in a good way. By being accountable for my actions and footprint while on expedition, I hope to build a foundation of ecological understanding for all participants.

 

In virtual waters, our growing YouTube channel, forthcoming members area, and speaking events will catalyze growth so I can devote more time this community in the future. In this digital age, I think it’s critical that storytelling and knowledge-sharing extends beyond the ocean’s surface. Finally, prioritizing physical mental wellness is not just a commitment to myself but an acknowledgment that my well-being is intricately tied to the vitality I bring to every expedition.


Still planning on carving out time to play in the waves

This new year has already brought immense change. Sanesh is off exploring a new dimension to his career as a mechanical engineer in Zurich Switzerland and I’m preparing for one of my busiest seasons of guiding ever. Thank you for coming on this journey and I hope that you’re as excited as I am about what’s to come. I’d love to hear about your paddling goals for 2024: leave them in a comment below. If you're interested in supporting our journey, please consider purchasing one of our awesome stickers and showing your paddle-pride!

 

See you on the water!

 

Nathan Slater



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After a great discussion with Nathan my wife and I booked a Gwaii Haanas guided tour for this summer with Butterfly Tours. Should be awesome! My trip last year with Nathan and Sanesh and others from Bella Bella to Prince Rupert was so inspirational! Off we go again for more multi day paddling!!

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