No Experience Required

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following post comes to us from one of our recent guests to Orca Camp – a novice at adventure travel she was inspired to sign-up for Orca Camp, then worried she wouldn’t have what it takes to really enjoy the experience. Here’s her story:


Fighting Butterflies

Remember the first day of your very first job…back when you had little or no experience at all? Remember the butterfly feelings in the pit of your stomach? The way you nervously approached every task, wanting to master it quickly, yet still unsure of yourself?

That’s how I felt on my very first day at Orca Camp. I was not what you’d call an “outdoors woman”. I had only ever paddled a kayak on a quiet lake, and never for longer than a half an hour at a time. Indeed, my idea of roughing it up until this point had been staying at a 3-star hotel.

So, the butterflies were flapping pretty hard the morning I jumped down from the water taxi and on to Warden Beach, landing at Orca Camp. I was excited and nervous all at the same time.

“What if I don’t have the arm strength to paddle in the ocean? What happens if I get out and don’t have the energy to come back? How long will these 50-year-old hips allow me to stay seated in a kayak? What if I’m the last kayak in the pack?”

The “what ifs” swam through my head, like salmon heading up-stream, swirling around and around until eventually I thought, there’s no way I can do this.

Funny, the power of the mind – it can talk you into and out of so many wonderful experiences.

Stay Open to the Experience

Lucky for me, our guide, Ken Matheson could read the trepidation on my face. He took me aside and said, “You don’t need any experience to enjoy Orca Camp – you just have to be open to the experience and do as much or as little as you want.”

And with those few kind words of encouragement, the cloud of uncertainty that had been looming over me lifted. Ken suited me up in my spray-skirt and paddling jacket, outfitted me with water socks and gloves and led me to the beach where he gave our entire group (some seasoned paddlers, and some first-timers like me) a refresher in ocean paddling.

Ken and Robyn

Orca Camp guide, Ken Matheson, assisting fellow guide getting suited up for the day

Everyone works together at Orca Camp

Everyone works together at Orca Camp

Kelp Beds, Rubbing Beaches…Nirvana

We launched our tandem kayaks and were off…butterflies and all, paddling the rugged coastline, watching eagles returning to their nests, and winding our way through a mysterious underwater kelp forest. We skirted past fishermen hauling in salmon. We floated over the Orca Rubbing Beaches. Dipping our paddles into the briny waters – left, right, left, right…in rhythm with each other. Our group stretched out – the seasoned paddlers out front, us “newbies” hanging a bit further back, taking our time…drinking it all in.

Hugging the shoreline the water was calm, cool and so clear you could see starfish and anemones and the occasional jumping salmon. So mesmerized was I by my surroundings I forgot I was nervous. It escaped me that I hadn’t done this before and, by the time I remembered, we had paddled clear across the Johnstone Strait and were snacking on energy bars, bobbing in the sunshine watching for signs of Orca activity.

The Rewards of Trying Something New for the Very First Time

My partner and I had paddled a few nautical miles and I barely even noticed it. We glided along the surface of the ocean, propelling ourselves from one shore to the other with what I realized was a measure of ease. I thought my arms would be tired. They weren’t. I though my back would hurt from pulling the paddle. It didn’t. I thought I’d be antsy to get out of the kayak. I wasn’t.

And then it dawned on me – just how many things have I chosen not to do, simply because I had no experience?

Orca Camp taught me to stay open to new possibilities. That was made all the easier by traveling with pros who helped me make the most of my experience. They assuaged my fears, showed me the “right” way to launch and paddle, and ultimately, showed me I could experience the wonders of the natural world…no experience required.

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February 17, 2014