UMD's extreme sports clubs, which include: surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking, and canoeing, introduce students to unique and exciting experiences. Not only do student’s learn how to paddle and catch the perfect wave, but also how to work as a team, lead groups, and solve problems. Randy Carlson, UMD alumnus and Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP) staff member and advisor to the extreme sports clubs, has inspired many of the participating students.
Learning to Adapt
One day the winds were blowing so strongly, it was hindering their ability to paddle to the next site. Carlson kept them in the bay until 2 a.m. when the winds finally allowed for the journey to proceed. The group was faced with the unexpected challenge of kayaking through the dark while at the same time trying to navigate to the next campsite. “I learned that when faced with a problem, you need to think of other ways around it,” said Gatlin. “The solution was to adapt and do something unconventional and in this case it was to paddle at night using the North Star as a guide. This ended up making for one of my best experiences ever. The stars were amazing.” Adapting by using different problem solving techniques is one of the many beneficial skills Carlson teaches.
Hard Work and Persistence
Munch said working with Carlson has made him become more confident as a person. “Teaching a sport makes for a hard work day, but getting through it is a great feeling,” said Munch. “I learned dedication and persistence.”
Munch said Carlson teaches students the value of a strong work ethic. There is a lot of planning and prep work that goes into his trips, like equipment management, maintenance, and prior research on how to navigate.
Love the Sport
“Randy taught me that it’s all about spreading the love of the sport,” said Winkler. “That attitude feels right. It also makes it a lot easier for me to make sales because I am so focused on the satisfaction of the customer.”
Improvise, but Don't Stop
Extreme sports help students alleviate stress by introducing them to physical and social activities. Students who work with Carlson spread the excitement to their friends about outdoor sports, such as white water canoeing, sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, and snow kiting.
About Carlson at UMD
“With Randy there is always an underlying lesson,” Winkler said. From gaining skills applicable in a future workplace to learning to appreciate the great outdoors, the students that participate in UMD's extreme sports learn a lot. Winkler said Carlson believes in experiential education where participants learn by practicing. “ 'Watch one, teach one, do one' is Randy's mantra,” Winkler said.
Captions: Photo 1 - Randy Carlson's January surfing face. Photo 2 - UMD computer science professor Doug Dunham and engineering student Ian Erickson hit the Southern California surf over spring break. Photo 3 - Jennifer Buseman is all smiles over stand-up paddle board (SUP) river wave surfing in Manitoba. Photo 4 - Carlson and Joel Ness develop kayak side surfing skills on the Knife River north of Duluth. Photo 5 - Carlson SUP surfs river waves in Manitoba. Photo 6 - Carlson surfs the North Shore of Lake Superior. Photo 7 - Winter snow kiting on Island Lake, Minn. Photo 8 - The snow kiting launch area on Chequamegon Bay, Wis. Photo 9 - Wayne Gatlin prepares his navigation lesson plan in the Apostle Island. Photo 10 - Spring time white water kayaking starts with a Lake Superior shoreline tour. Photo 11 - All paddling and surfing options are available on the Winnipeg River wave surfing trip. Photo 12 - Zak Winkler on a March SUP tour of the Split Rock State Park shoreline. Photo 13 - Winkler explores the Lake Superior Shoreline in March
Story by Rosy Bray and Cheryl Reitan