Thursday, February 26, 2015

American Canoe Association - California Council

I've been talking about the American Canoe Association (ACA) a fair bit on the blog recently, and partly that's because I've started a new role within the organization. I'm the Clubs Director for the ACA's new California state Executive Council, part of a program with councils for every state. It's a volunteer position, as are all positions on the council, and we're all in the process of defining what it really means. Here's what we've come up with so far.

The Executive Councils are a way for the ACA to have a local focal point in each state. We're here to help spread the word - actually, lots of words - as well as listen to the what the community has to say. We want to let the world know what the ACA is and what it does, but also we want to help paddlers connect with one another. To accomplish this, we've set up a Facebook page that we will use to communicate.

What will we communicate? First, information about the ACA and it's many great programs, like instructor certification, Paddle America Clubs, insurance offerings, public safety education, and paddler advocacy. The ACA has been around for one hundred and thirty-five years, always a non-profit devoted to paddle sports. It's main goal has been one of safety, with the motto of education not regulation. It offers a lot of great resources and we hope to highlight them through the Facebook page, especially the things most pertinent to our great state.

We also want to help paddlers connect with each other. We want to let the paddlers know about cool things like the Cal100, or how SUP paddlers are welcomed at the Santa Cruz Paddlefest. And maybe some sea kayakers would be interested in learning about river slalom races, like the Moke Races, or rafters wanting to get involved with adaptive kayaking programs like Team River Runner in San Diego. We want to help new paddlers find out about their local clubs, like the Los Angeles Kayak Club, so they'll find more people to paddle with. This is a large state, and while paddlers make great communities, it's often hard to connect with those communities if you don't know they exist, and it's hard for the communities to connect to each other when they're far apart.

In that vein, we want to hear from the paddlers out there. What would you like the ACA to do for you? How can we contribute to the kayaking/rafting/SUPing/rescue world? What does California paddling need? One of the goals of the state council initiative is to have a local face on the ACA so conversations are a little more immediate and personal. Once again, it's all about communication.

As the Clubs Director for the council, my goal is to help the clubs that already exist in a variety of ways. I want to make sure they know about the insurance options that the ACA provides, which can be invaluable for putting on events where a certificate of insurance is needed. I want to make sure they're aware of the CFS grants which offer money to organizations doing public service, like cleaning up a beach or river bank. But mostly I want to help clubs reach out to new paddlers, to help them find each other and get more people into our great big paddling community. The ACA has a lot of history and a long reach already established, and we're happy to use it to help out the many little (and not so little) clubs out there. Let's make this an even bigger party.

So if you're a paddler in California, we want to have something for you. If you're not seeing it, let us know what you want and we will try to get it. If you're not from Cali, you're welcome to stop by too - we know that you all plan to come visit at some point since we have some of the best paddling in the world no matter what type of paddling you're talking about. So go like our Facebook page and say hi when you're there - I'm one of the administrators. Happy paddling!

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