The June Instructor of the Month is Wayne Douchkoff from Bradenton, Florida! The ACA staff had a few minutes to sit down and chat with Wayne about his “reason why,” and learn more about the programs he works with to spread the news about safe and enjoyable paddling in his community.
I’m heavily involved with an organization called Lighthouse for the “Blind and Low Vision -Tampa.” I have volunteered monthly for 4 years; I have organized and taught students to lead trips and teach kayaking skills including how to maintain heading using the sun or wind. Most kids progressed into single kayaks. While supporting the recreation goals, games were included which reinforced boat control skills. As physical disabilities are common with those with vision impairment, instructors used both Adaptive Paddling and Advanced Communication skills that were learned during ACA Universal paddling workshops. Two of the workshops were conducted at the Sweetwater Gulf Coast Symposium including paddlers from Europe and the US.
I also work with the Manatee County Blueway Trails Paddling Program. I developed and conducted the program for the past 10 years, I have led over 300 trips and conducted over 40 First Time Paddlers classes for Manatee County. The purpose of the trips and classes is to introduce ACA paddling techniques and safety standards to paddlers. As an instructor in the University of Florida Master Naturalist Program and Certified Interpreter by National Association for Interpretation, I am able to get paddlers to appreciate and protect nature, i.e. stewardship. Additionally, we have conducted ACA and county river/coastal cleanups.
I’m also a proud volunteer for the Florida Paddling Trails Association. In conjunction with ACA Florida, I have conducted several Paddlers Environmental Toolkit programs around Florida to teach paddlers about Florida’s ecosystems. Part of the training is stewardship, i.e. how to protect the environment, educate other paddlers about interacting with nature and who to contact for environmental issues.
Overall, I am motivated to teach because I truly enjoy seeing others have their own ‘aha’ moment. I especially get a thrill out of mentoring new paddlers on their own journey. Several of my mentees have continued on to become ACA instructors as well.
Fun fact: In 2018, I completed my goal of paddling in all 50 U.S. states! In 2019, I completed my additional goal of paddling in every Canadian province and territory, including Tuktoyatuk in Northwest Territories on the Arctic Ocean.