The Self-Sustaining Club: From Beginner to Instructor

by Jasmin Campbell coaching

Young Bristol Kayak Club started originally with investment through a Sport England programme called Sportivate. This supported projects to deliver 6 weeks’ worth of activity and signpost participants into regular activity at the club. Young Bristol managed to retain some of the participants who started at the first Sportivate session!

Wesport now fund Young Bristol to deliver their Kayak Club through Sport England’s Satellite Club funding – this gives the charity the option to offer funded spaces for young people from lower socio-economic group to be able to attend and enjoy the benefits of the sessions for free

We spoke to the boys to find out how they got into kayaking and why they now want to give something back to the club.

Rob is 16 and first started kayaking in 2014. He started from the bottom as a beginner, developed as a volunteer and is now training to be an instructor. He said: “I enjoy kayaking and I have always got along well with the instructors and the young people who come on the courses. The instructors are good fun, appreciative and respectful.”

Louis is 15 and has been kayaking for 4 years. He said: “When I first started, I just was learning how to paddle as I had little experience but now as time has progressed I have become much more involved in the activities and helping out younger kayakers.”

Both boys said that their instructors at Young Bristol were an inspiration to them: Rob told us that Lisa Gunton “is a fantastic role model; good fun, sensible, safe and kind. Another volunteer Jono is also inspiring for me because he manages instructor training with university study and his hobby, water polo.” Although Rob has had to cut back on his activities with the kayak club whilst he has been revising for his GCSE’s, his motivation to complete the instructor course has not diminished. The school allows him an afternoon off each week to do the instructor training course.

We asked Rob what benefits he had seen within the club from the Satellite Club funding and he told us that it’s enabled him to participate in a ‘healthy outdoor activity’ and given him the opportunity to work towards a qualification. He said that his involvement with the club has been ‘confidence-boosting’. Rob is dyslexic and finds that he enjoys being part of the kayak club because he doesn’t have to face many of the challenges that this brings in other areas of his life.

Louis also told us about the benefits of the kayak club for his mental health; “I really love attending the club as I find it a break from reality, and can leave all my problems and worries at home.” There is also the social aspect of the club which makes it appealing for young people to continue to attend: “My favourite thing about the club would have to be the community and how everyone is so nice and friendly, I have made friends over my time at the club which makes me always look forward to going.”

Having been there since the beginning, the boys have a strong sense of community within the club, as they have seen it change over the years. Louis said “lots of new opportunities have been shown to me, and have been made possible because of the funding. I would also say how many more people have joined, and how the funding has affected the promotion process.”

Satellite Club funding can help clubs support local community sport and physical activity deliverers to engage young people aged 14 - 19 who are currently inactive. We have found that the most successful Satellite Clubs are those driven by demand; to keep young people motivated to return you have to know what they want to do! Young Bristol kayak club are a fantastic example of this; where they have built an environment for young people to progress within and build a community around. We hope to see many more years of success stories like Rob and Louis’ for this club!


Kayak Club is a drop-in programme where any young person, of all abilities, aged 8-21 years old can take part in Kayaking & Canoeing on Bristol’s iconic harbour at our outdoor Activity Centre Pooles Wharf.

The club runs every Tuesday 5 – 7pm from March to October.

Participants will have the opportunity to achieve their Paddle Power Passport and a BCU 1 Star Certificate.

For more information and to sign up to a session, visit the Young Bristol website here...



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about the author

Jasmin Campbell

Marketing & Administration Officer

T: 0117 328 6250