Ted grew up in Southern Indiana, where he was introduced to lake and river canoeing. Combined with many family trips to the East Coast, where swimming off the beaches of Long Island was a major activity, he began a life-long affinity for being on the water. While living in Colorado, he took up whitewater kayaking in the Colorado River headwaters but soon realized he wanted to try sea kayaking instead.
Learning the basics with friends and later in club workshops, Ted spent all of his time paddling in the cold waters of high altitude lakes, reservoirs, and rivers — quickly understanding the need for proper clothing and learning to assess water and weather conditions to decide if paddling, or some other activity, was appropriate. He began going on guided paddle trips in the San Juan Islands, British Columbia, and Baja, hanging out with the guides to learn everything he could from professional kayakers.
He moved to Bellingham in 2008, primarily to be closer to saltwater paddling. He passed his American Canoe Association Level II Certification in 2009. From 2009 to 2013, Ted was the principal sea kayak instructor at the Bellingham Bay Community Boating Center, where he developed most of the kayaking course content in addition to teaching most of the classes. During his tenure, he received universally high evaluations from his students for his teaching ability, patience, safety awareness and enthusiasm.
Ted has been formally trained in a number of teaching disciplines, in addition to the ACA. In the 1970s, he was certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America as a cross-country ski instructor. He was an Instructor/Trainer/Examiner for the National Ski Patrol System at ski areas where he professionally patrolled (in Indiana and Colorado) for Patrol Ski Skills, Toboggan Handling, and First Aid. He was awarded a “National” certification as an Avalanche Instructor, an award conferred by his teaching peers, and also received his National Number by the NSPS for his service to the ski industry and patrolling. He’s been certified through OSHA and had “Train the Trainer” instruction in Risk and Crisis Management.
His work experience, besides teaching kayaking, has been diverse, including: pottery-making, gift store ownership, professional ski patrolling and directorship, safety management, and local government in both elected and appointed positions. He loves Labrador Retrievers, struggles with golf, and travel. Sea kayaking is a lifestyle for him, whom he shares with his partner Kelly Patrick; and when not teaching, they often can be found paddling just for the fun of it.
Kelly was born and raised in southern and central Idaho where, from an early age, she learned to love being active in the outdoors. A consummate “tom boy,” Kelly spent her life in Idaho enjoying horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, backpacking, and winter camping. However, in the desert, the water is always either dry or frozen, and Kelly dreamed of living near the ocean and adding paddling to her list of life experiences.
Kelly attended the University of Puget Sound where she earned her degree in Asian Studies and Japanese Language in 3 ½ years. During her time in Tacoma, Kelly fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and knew she had found home.
Following graduation, Kelly returned to Idaho where she began her career as an operations supervisor for REI. During those 8 years, she gained extensive experience in safety management, OSHA standards, employee training, crisis management, sales, and Human Resources. She reached a point in her career, however, where 50+ hour weeks were no longer fulfilling, and a promotion literally meant moving to Texas. Kelly decided she had lost balance in life, and it was time for a change. During a vacation to Bellingham, Kelly discovered Boulevard Park, where she made the decision to take a chance, quit her career, and return to the great Pacific Northwest in hopes of obtaining a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Within five months of moving to Bellingham, Kelly fulfilled a desert girl’s dream and took her first kayaking course. She was hooked. Six weeks later, Kelly became the proud owner of her first kayak. She dove into the sport, tenaciously taking courses, reading books, paddling with locals, and doing everything she could to educate herself about technique, gear, safety, and the amazing paddling environment that Bellingham offers.
As a way to share her love for the sport with others, Kelly decided to become a kayak instructor. She earned her ACA Coastal Kayaking Level III certification, and spent three years teaching at the Bellingham Community Boating Center. Kelly’s desire to teach in an environment that allowed her to maintain small class sizes and establish safety protocols meeting her high standards left her wanting more for her students. So, again, she took a leap of faith and founded the Salish Sea Kayak School with her partner, Ted Wang.
Kelly understands that kayaking can be an intimidating and challenging sport to learn, and that it is frequently viewed as being “cliquish” and elitist. She loves to teach beginning and intermediate paddlers, and constantly endeavors to create a supportive, welcoming, and non threatening learning environment that encourages her students to find a sense of confidence and empowerment on the water. Kelly enjoys helping others find their own niche within the sport she loves so dearly. Some students wish to paddle at a relaxed pace on “blue bird days” as a way to unwind and slow down in life, while others may choose to challenge themselves in the churning currents of Deception Pass. Some students never need, nor want, extreme gear while others can think only of carbon fiber and British-designed, high performance boats. She respects those niches, and whatever her students’ goals may be, it is Kelly’s hope that they achieve joy and a sense of pride in their journey of discovery.
In addition to paddling, Kelly enjoys playing with her two dogs, running, reading, and traveling. She is currently studying to work as a Physical Therapy Assistant and is lucky to live in Bellingham with her partner, Ted.