How long did you compete in kayak rodeo? I competed in both slalom and freestyle from 1996-2001. Interestingly, competitions made me bristle when I started kayaking. The casual, friendly event atmosphere quickly changed my tune.
How many years have you taught whitewater kayaking? Let’s see, I first started teaching in 1994; though I did have a few years there were I wasn’t teaching as much due to my competition schedule.
What is your educational background/degree?
Dropped out of school to be a raft guide and kayak bum. Sad but true, though I can’t really say that I’ve had many regrets for the path I’ve chosen, and I don’t think I would choose differently…
What’s your favorite part of teaching?
Hard to nail down to one small thing, but for the most part I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how to best reach people. It’s all about finding the right moment, to say the right things, the right way; and sometimes knowing when NOT to say something (even important things). Everyone is different, and requires a different approach, and different timing, and sometimes language. To me that’s way harder than learning to kayak, and I like things to be hard and challenging … it pushes me to constantly learn and improve.
You taught your wife Gigi, do you recommend teaching spouses? Well, to be honest, I did NOT teach Gigi how to kayak. Though I have at times helped (taught) her, I can’t say that I would ever recommend that to others. We were still dating at the time, and she was a much newer kayaker than I was, but she certainly wasn’t a beginner. There were/are two key things that I think made it possible for me to teach her a few things here and there without too much stress on the relationship: she was already completely hooked on kayaking, and was in no way checking it out because of me in any way, and secondly the tips and pointers that I’ve offered along the way were always (ok almost always) at her request for help.
It is challenging at times though, for both of us. Mostly I just enjoy teaching, especially to someone who is hungry to learn. I think it’s generally a really bad idea to even go there for 99.99% of couples though; even with the best of intentions, it often places undue stress and pressure, not to mention frustrations on both. Many of the emotional challenges in learning to kayak can become magnified, and can overlap into relationship issues. Just really, really not a good idea.
What’s your favorite river to paddle?
So many… I’m not even sure I can honestly say I have a singular “favorite”
anymore, as I deeply love so many! The Middle fork of the Feather is up there pretty high, as is the Grand Canyon, Fantasy Falls is an amazing place, The Futaleaufu, the Chirriqui Viejo… I could go on and on, and still probably forget a few. I will say that I do prefer the multi day adventures to the single day roadside runs.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Kayak (shocking I know). Fly fishing, back packing, road trips, anything that gets me out of the house and into the mountains …especially if flowing waters are involved in any way.
Thanks so much for accommodating me with 2 private lessons with Jason Bates…Jason was just the perfect instructor…I had a great time! -Howard, August 2010
Jason is a very patient meticulous teacher… -Paul, August 2010
…the Rogue trip was one of the best trips I have been on.Jason & Leah were the perfect teachers for Dani on the trip. Dani got her first combat roll in the first rapid. Shawn had the time of his life. We will be doing this trip next year… thank you… for a fantastic trip. -Doug, July 2010