Paddling club membership

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I am curious about how many tripper folk have past or present paddling club experience?

I am in the latter group, having once been an active member of two local clubs. At one time I led trips for both, and cherry picked a few folks I still paddle with via those outings.

Both clubs were more whitewater oriented than my usual persuasions, but both had cruise schedules that ranged from novice float trips to advanced whitewater, including multi-day trips. Each also offered a range of paddling and rescue classes, and winter season seminars and presentations. And membership was inexpensive - $10-$15 annually.

Dang, I’m beginning to wonder why I dropped those memberships. I think I just kind of drifted away and forgot to renew.

Who is still club-active, and why?

Or why not.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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6,392
Location
Raymond, ME
I once belonged to AMC and did whitewater and kayak trips. I got wrapped up in an AMC committee that ran trips at Knubble Bay. Our cabin there was spartan. We built a new one. Then codes crept in and leadership requirements and the committe became more involved in hospitality management than tripping. The time commitment went from a weekend a month to every weekend in the summer expected. Well as I don't ever want to be tied to one spot (I will never own a summer home for the same reason) I got tired of that real quick. I want to be able to go various places in my old age. AMC finally gave up on me. The membership is expensive for me to join group outings. And I am not lured to the White Mountains . I live there and hike when I want..and not in a herd, I hate herd hiking.

We do have a whitewater club locally. But my days of running Class 3 to 5 are done. And I don't bend well enough to enjoy thigh straps and toe blocks and saddles w/o pain.

The other club (MOAC) is all city based. Its hard to get to meetings and most of their outings are a good two hour drive.

But I would join a senior paddling club.. I am looking for a paddling oriented nursing home.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
Messages
226
Location
Northwest Wyoming
I work at a college where I'm the advisor for the paddling club. It's not a large group, unfortunately. We've only been going for a couple of years. We are very kayak oriented, and mostly sea kayak oriented, because we live by lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron. We are only two hours away from Lake Superior Provincial Park, which has some very beautiful wilderness canoeing areas, along with magnificent places to sea kayak. Unfortunately, we haven't got our act together just yet, and aren't taking advantage of all that is near. That, and except for a couple of months in the fall, when the students are here, there is a good deal of snow and ice. Pringles
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,820
Location
Schenectady, NY
I was once a member of ACA and MCA, never did any trips or events with them. I only joined to get a better price on canoe plans...I'm a small group kind of guy anyway.

I currently belong to two groups:

WHA (We Hate Acronymns)...we actually despise our own name

TAI Sports Club (Talk About IT)...we don't actually participate in ANYTHING, just talk about it!
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
453
Location
southwest Indiana
Mike, I currently am a member of 4 clubs, three of which are in states I don't live in (anymore). I am a life member of Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, although it has been years since I have participated in one of their events or paddles. I belong to the Missouri Whitewater Association and the Three Rivers Paddling Club (Pennsylvania). I joined both of those to participate in an annual or semi-annual event that required club membership, but the yearly dues were very moderate. We have a small club here in Evansville Indiana mostly oriented to whitewater paddling (even though we have essentially no whitewater in the state) but I am the only open boater. It is not a club, but I have been a sometimes member of the ACA for years.

I think clubs are great for folks getting started in paddle sports. They provide any easy way to meet other paddlers in the area, offer a safety net for new paddlers during group paddles in which more experienced boaters are present, and provide logistical support for shuttles and the like for river and overnight trips.

On the other hand, I understand why some people really don't like clubs, or drift away from them after a couple of years. Large group trips frequently take on the atmosphere of a carnival gone bad, with individuals showing up late at the put in, going to the wrong meeting place or arriving at the wrong time due to failure to take into account the time change, or getting lost during the shuttle, and I cannot even count any more the times someone arrived at the take out to find that the keys for the shuttle vehicle were left in a gear bag in another car parked back at the put in. On the water people often want to go at a different pace, some wanting to either lollygag or stop and play at every river feature while others want to blast downstream. And people have differing degrees of tolerance for helping retrieve swimmers and gear, but after helping the same person retrieve their boat and paddle and waiting for them to empty it and get back in for the fifth or sixth time, just about anyone will start to get tired.

I have found that leading trips or participating in the informal instruction that many clubs do can be a pretty thankless job. If you have more than about 2 people involved it seems that there are differing expectations and agendas which cannot be reconciled. Some want to be closely sheparded while others bristle at any attempt to make a helpful suggestion. Most trip leaders want to try to be certain that no one gets hurt on trips they lead, gets overlooked and left behind, loses their gear, paddles past the take out, etc. but some individuals revolt at the idea of maintaining a lead and sweep boat and want to be free to do whatever they please without regard for maintaining the integrity of the group. After a few such experiences, some trip leaders will no longer be willing to shoulder the responsibility or meet the differing expectations of the participants.

I find that I paddle on club events much less than in prior years, although I still do so at least a dozen times a year. Part of this is due to the fact that the internet has supplanted paddling clubs as a way to meet and get together to a considerable extent. Another reason, at least with regards to whitewater paddling is declining popularity of canoes relative to kayaks over the last few decades. But I still think clubs serve an important function for many new paddlers and I don't mind supporting them with a modest yearly fee.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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3,670
Location
Appleton, Maine
I never had an interest in joining a club, although I met a couple in LaVerendrye Reserve, Quebec who belonged to the Ottawa YMCA canoe club (I think it was the Y). They told me of the great trips they take with like minded folks and it seemed like that would be a group I would probably fit in with.
 
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
6
Location
Jackson Mi
I am a active club member leader for our local club andour group was created to connect with other paddlers in and around Michigan. Weshare with others places we've paddled or places you would like to paddle. Ifothers have any paddle events going on, we ask them to share with us and we canpost it on our web site. I am an active paddler and belong to My CCR and thisgroup, I also network about 50 other clubs and groups on Facebook. Facebook has100's of paddling groups with clubs and groups with trips, trip reports, gearreview, pictures, everything. My group has about 277 people that follow us.Only about 30 are what I would call ACTIVE. But I have made many new friendsand joined other groups for trips. Feel free to look us up we are an activegroup and paddle year round, yep even in the winter :)

Look up Wolf Pack Kayaking and let me know you stopped by.

Ted

 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
I sort of belong to a local paddling group, which is based out of a large urban area south of me... there aren't any dues; it's more just a group who get together and paddle about once a month. there is a huge emphasis on kayaks, but we canoers are represented, especially on the overnighters. i'm no longer active with them. used to do maybe 3 trips a year...

i joined several years ago simply to get acquainted with the local waterways, share the shuttling duties, and maybe find a few friends. I discovered over time that there was only one gentleman who shared my views on how to do things (gear and outdoor behavior/ethics, mostly), and i still correspond with him... the others were either dedicated kayakers (with quite a few who turned up their noses at my homemade stitch and glue canoe and paddle), or car campers using canoes to carry their stuff (it took 6 of us once, to lift a canoe over a short, 25 yard portage. have NO idea how those two managed to paddle with that load.) So, i mostly solo-trip in my beast, but I made it myself, and that's important to me.

One thing i really hated about group trips was the "stringing out" that occurs sometimes, and on one trip in particular... as a capable (but by no means expert) paddler, i felt some obligation to assist the weakest paddler, since the group "leader" didn't appear to think that was necessary... this guy was brand new to his boat, his campgin gear, and the physical work of paddling... he shouldn't have been allowed to come in the first place without someone who had previously volunteered for babysitting duty... i don't mind teaching anyone... it's fun... but he'd probably have seriously injured himself (or worse) if he'd been left alone. the other gentleman i mentioned earlier and i took him under wing and escorted him the whole 2 days (one overnight, 17 miles, much of it into a headwind). He was barely capable of setting up his own tent, but we got him back safely... but that was my last trip with that group.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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6,392
Location
Raymond, ME
You did well Seeker. You were more of a leader than the designated leader. When I did group trips with our kayaking club we had two leaders. The rule was that paddlers stayed between the two. On ocean trips with wide expanses of water we would paddle the shore and use a third leader to jam the group closer to shore..to avoid the scatter effect. Strung out or scattered is just plain bad trip management.

OTOH, do we as paddlers when we gain some experience, have a sort of duty to become mentors? I know that what I learned about big water and waves and wind and weather I learned from a kayaking club. And I did put my time in as leader. And got a kick in the pants sometimes from disgruntled paddlers when I altered trip plans on the day of the trip due to unfavorable conditions.

However I am retired now and leave the rescues up to the younger and more fit.
 
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When I did group trips with our kayaking club we had two leaders. The rule was that paddlers stayed between the two. On ocean trips with wide expanses of water we would paddle the shore and use a third leader to jam the group closer to shore..to avoid the scatter effect. Strung out or scattered is just plain bad trip management.

The clubs I belonged to used the same lead and sweep boat strategy on river trips, so that less experienced paddlers didn’t have mishaps with no one behind them to assist.

One of the main reasons I stopped leading “club” trips was just that unknown ability factor. If paddling with company I would much rather be part of a small group whose ability and judgment I know and trust.

I don’t do any open ocean paddling, but on big tidal rivers or coastal bay trips with friends we have no designated lead or sweep. In those venues, where there are a variety of route options, I’d much prefer each to their own choice; out around the point into open water or into the sneak and shallows route.

On those types of skilled friend multi-day trips we often launch at different times (or different days) to paddle in, and are even more frequently scattered by departure time (date) or route choice on the way out.

Day paddling with ”unknowns” is one thing. Tripping with them is another. I am leery by experience of undertaking multi-day trips without a day paddle or two to ascertain the pleasure of someone’s company and how our styles and personalities mesh.

The primary reason I stopped leading club trips was the “noise” associated with a group of unknowns. “Noise” meaning both the constant clank and clatter of a large group and especially the barrage of questions, queries and concerns at the put in, where someone is always late, someone always forgot critical gear, someone needs to eat or change clothes, someone is asking “When we will get to the take out?” and someone else wants to discuss their novel concept of a shuttle, typically some strategy that apportions the cars, boats and drivers in a uniquely unworkable arrangement.

Ooops. End rant. Solo or with a few select companions is about the most I can handle.
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
453
Location
southwest Indiana
Being a leader or assistant leader on a club paddling outing, or an outing open to the general public in which participants cannot be accurately screened to assess their ability and experience, can require one to have patience and a pretty high tolerance for general frustration. Many times, the trip leaders would rather be doing something else. At the end of the trip someone might say "Thanks", but don't count on it.

I volunteer as a trip leader or assistant trip leader for flat water and moving flat water canoe paddles run by a local nature society. These are on nearby creeks, lakes, and ponds. We always try to have several leaders on each outing, but this is volunteer work, and it is dependent on who is able and willing to show up. On trips with a limited number of leaders it may not be possible to devote one's full attention to a paddler or pair of paddlers who have no ability to control their boat and find themselves at the mercy of current and/or wind. To do so might require one to ignore the majority of the group.

I also sometimes function as a safety boater for club paddles on whitewater streams. When we take newbies down a whitewater stream of moderate difficulty, such as the Class III+ Ocoee River in Tennessee, we try to have at least three experienced paddlers per newbie. This might seem excessive, but in the event of a total "yard sale" (swimmer, flooded boat, and paddle all going in different directions) it takes at least three people to assure the swimmer gets to safety and to retrieve the gear. And it often takes more than one paddler to get a swamped boat out of the current. Furthermore, trip leaders and experienced paddlers are not immune from mishaps. One one memorable Ocoee trip the most experienced boater in the group capsized in a Class III+ rapid and broke his neck.
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2012
Messages
81
Location
Eastern Long Island, NY
I've been the leader on a number of club trips both open water and on rivers. Unless you can pick and chose who is on the trip it often becomes an adventure in herding stray feral cats. In September I led seven other paddlers from the local paddling club on the Bog River and Lows Lake for a four day paddle. None of these other paddlers had ever paddled in the Adirondacks before this trip. Great trip and the only instruction given was paddle with a partner. As a leader it was a piece of cake. In comparison I've led short two or three hour trips where you're always corralling someone.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
You did well Seeker. You were more of a leader than the designated leader. When I did group trips with our kayaking club we had two leaders. The rule was that paddlers stayed between the two. On ocean trips with wide expanses of water we would paddle the shore and use a third leader to jam the group closer to shore..to avoid the scatter effect. Strung out or scattered is just plain bad trip management.

OTOH, do we as paddlers when we gain some experience, have a sort of duty to become mentors? I know that what I learned about big water and waves and wind and weather I learned from a kayaking club. And I did put my time in as leader. And got a kick in the pants sometimes from disgruntled paddlers when I altered trip plans on the day of the trip due to unfavorable conditions.

However I am retired now and leave the rescues up to the younger and more fit.

Thanks... guess that's just my military bone kicking in... you don't leave people behind.

All this does make me appreciate the folks who DO decide to lead trips a bit more... lots of thankless work.
 
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