Our Black Lab! She is the motivation, inspiration, and unconditional love giver that every great family and company needs
With a degree from VCU and as Co-Founder of Black Dog Paddle Camille is an avid stand up paddler; dedicated to living and promoting an active, healthy lifestyle utilizing Richmonds' natural resources and numerous waterways. She has many years of being a fitness and outdoors enthusiast; kayaking, snowboarding, wakeboarding and practicing yoga for eight years. In February 2011, Camille spent four days in Jupiter Florida with world class Stand Up Paddle Board instructors Brody Welte and John Denney to earn her PaddleFit Instructor Certification. In recent years she has enjoyed the simplicity of backyard eco-excursions; paddling the James River, Outer Banks, multiple lakes and says "stand up paddling the back bays of Matthews County for a few hours - even in November - can make you feel as if you're on an exotic vacation!" Her passion is to share this outdoor based fitness activity. She believes it's a perfect way to connect the wonders of our natural environment with the exhilaration of movement. Strength, Balance - Paddle.
Bryan was born and raised in Richmond, VA. Always surrounded by water, Bryan first started instructing as a 15 year old Lifeguard. Teaching kids to swim would become a recurring theme for life. After attending Freeman HS, he moved just down the street to the University of Richmond. Graduating with a degree in Sport Science and having many years of sports medicine training under his belt, he decided to venture into the outdoor industry. After guiding at Richmond Raft, Bryan moved to West Virginia to guide full time on the New and Gauley Rivers. While at North American River Runners (NARR), Bryan became American Canoe Association (ACA) certified to teach whitewater kayaking level IV. A job offer at VAIL took him to Colorado for 3 winters, and kept him in WVA for 2 summers until he was offered the opportunity to manage and help build a new outdoor recreational leader in Richmond, Peak Experiences Climbing Gym. Encouraged by the owners, Bryan set off to seek his desire to fly; where he remains to this day. Bryan’s newest passion brings him back to the outdoor industry, but this time as a co-owner with his wife Camille, in the city where it all started!
Aaron's passion in life is teaching; since he was in the 6th grade he has been working with children through numerous camps and organizations. He graduated in 2006 from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education. Shortly after graduation Aaron began working as an elementary school Physical Education teacher in Crystal Lake Illinois. Originally from Virginia, Aaron's family moved to Crystal Lake, IL when he was young. After coming for a visit to Virginia in 2011 Aaron decided to move back to his home state in the summer of 2013 to be closer to family and friends.
In 2008 Aaron and his Aunt Connie decided to take a kayaking class for fun on Lake Michigan, immediately Aaron was hooked. Soon after he obtained a boat and continued taking lessons to become certified as an ACA Level 4 Sea Kayak instructor. Since becoming an instructor Aaron spent his weekends and summers teaching classes to beginner paddlers while also guiding clients on multi-day expeditions. In his spare time Aaron also enjoys; walking his 2 dogs, paddleboarding, hiking, and camping with friends.
It all started in snowy Buffalo. Maria got hooked on outdoor sports after her first run down the bunny hill on her mom’s old K2s. A few years later Maria became a rock climber, a scuba diver, a lifeguard, a mountain biker, and a hiker. Her adventures spanned the globe traveling, teaching rock climbing, and sharing her love of the outdoors. The acts of moving through nature under one’s own power and strength became the foundation of her desire to teach SUP. After years of climbing hard, the effects were taking a toll on her body, so she decided to try something new – SUP! The sport offered everything, a great work out, closeness to nature, and her best friend, Riley, (an Australian Shepherd) could join her. Since Maria started paddling she hasn’t looked back, with a degree in education, and an ACA certification she’s ready to share her new passion with others. She has even written a book about training dogs to ride SUP!
Steve was born in Chesapeake, VA and has always been active in sports and coaching. He played baseball at Great Bridge High School and went on to be a four-year starter at Christopher Newport University. In 2010, Steve moved to Lexington, KY and immediately missed being away from the ocean and local VA waterways. When he moved back to Virginia in 2011, he immediately picked up SUP, buying his first board from Black Dog Paddle. Within 3 months, he had bought his first 12'6" race board and then quickly moved up to first 14' race board. Steve has competed in many local SUP races and trains year-round for these competitions. When he isn't sweeping the waters of Tidewater, Steve also stays active at his local Crossfit gym. Other than teaching and racing SUPs, Steve also enjoys fishing off of a Stand-Up Board. Since 2011, Steve has been a Financial Advisor with Nationwide Insurance and works out of three paddle-friendly office locations in: Gloucester, Kilmarnock, and Chincoteague. He can be seen driving to and from appointments with his race board in tote and sometimes maybe even getting in a quick paddle "between appointments." He loves teaching people to paddle and witnessing the reaction of people who walk on water for the first time.
Additional Instructor Resources:
Hoe he'e nalu – The Hawaiian word for Stand-up Paddle Surfing or SUP. In the early 1930’s, Thomas Edward Blake helped created paddle boarding while trying to become more competitive in local and distance races as well as save lives as an ocean lifeguard. Stand up paddle surfing has its basis in an ancient form of surfing by Hawaiian Kings, but was re-invented in the early 1960’s as a way for surf instructors to view the waters around them, the incoming surf, and their novice surfing students. This higher viewpoint was a great advantage to see and photograph but required the use of a paddle to keep up with the traveling group.
Q. Is Stand Up Paddle boarding an extreme sport?
A. Almost anyone who can stand, can paddleboard at your pace and leisure! If you are fishing off a stand up board and catch a huge fish, well then it may be extreme! Or, if your stoke leads you to surf consistent overhead sets - definitely extreme! The amazing nature of this sport is you can take your paddle board on flat water, lakes, rivers, moving water, white water, surf... it's truly great for all ages and abilities!
Q. Is Stand Up Paddle boarding a good alternative workout?
A. You get a great core workout while having fun! Now add in our paddle-fitness class and you will get a huge alternative workout and core strengthening! Ask about a less buoyant board and get a more intense workout.
Q. Does Stand Up Paddle boarding require a lifejacket?
A. In 2008 the USCG classified the Stand Up Paddle Board as a vessel, and thus a PFD is required when not used in the narrow limits of swimming, surfing, or bathing areas. Not to mention, it is just plain smart at many times! Fanny pack style USCG approved devices are allowed, and a much better alternative to strapping a PFD to your deck.
Q. If Stand Up Paddling is so easy, why do I need to have instruction, why can't I just go rent a board and go have fun?
A. Your certified instructors have taken many classes in safety, technique, and advanced skills so we can fast track your learning curve. Ask if your instructor is certified and insured to teach SUP and by which organization. Don't take it from me. The ACA says "With instruction, you will have more fun, gain confidence, go farther and faster with less effort and take control of your paddling experience. Take a lesson from a certified ACA Instructor. Set aside time to learn the basic use of equipment and proper stroke technique. In a few days, you can develop a solid foundation of skills, far quicker than if you learn piecemeal from friends, or haphazardly by trial and error. The typical paddling class atmosphere is fun. By taking a class you meet other people who will be about your skill level, thus you will expand your network of paddling friends." from www.americancanoe.org, the American Leader in SUP instruction. We follow the ACA curriculum. Heck! We are on the committee developing the ACA SUP program to make it easier for you to learn and safer so you can have fun!
Q. Won’t my legs get tired standing for 2 hours?
A. If you stand for 2 hours straight your legs may get tired or more likely bored. We at Black Dog Paddle, have already experienced this and we know when to play, work, and just take a break and sit and relax on the boards and enjoy the view, they are SUPer stable and easy to have a picnic on! Also, your balance and weight shifts on every stroke so that really keeps that major muscle group well balanced!