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Paddling Communities

By Ann Beman - August 2nd, 2000

Find More:

My Community

As I've often written, if I'm not kayaking (or sleeping), I'm probably writing about kayaking.
  • I check into the newsgroup regularly.
  • I subscribe to at least three paddle/water sports magazines.
  • From April to October, I participate in as many whitewater kayak slalom events as I can. They are my favorite way to support local and regional paddling clubs.
  • The club to which I belong is the Kern River Alliance, a group dedicated to educating people about the Kern River through its The Flow newsletter, youth development program, community outreach and conservation activities, such as river cleanup, river access, and campaigns to regain natural flows. It sounds like a lot of serious business, but belonging to a paddling club also entails hosting parties. For example, KRA hosts the Kern River Festival, which draws hundreds of boaters from across the country. Its April timeslot means our festival pretty much kicks off the whitewater season each year, so we end up emceeing a reunion of canoe, raft, and kayak paddlers from all over the country and world -- many of whom end up sleeping on the floor at my house.
  • To wind down the season, I race in the Mokelumne River Races hosted by the Loma Prieta Paddlers Club, based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Building Your Own Community

American Canoe Association suggestions:

Currently the association sanctions more than 700 paddle sport events each year, providing event organizers with assistance through the ACA Event Support Program, a comprehensive assistance program including insurance/risk management, technical assistance, loaner equipment, event promotion and funding.

  • First, find folks with a common interest. Canoe camping or slalom kayaking or increased flows, for examples. Then, contact the ACA, which has a list of its members by area.
  • Second, advertise in the local newspaper or at local restaurants. Post club meetings, events, trips, etc., in local outdoor shops.
  • Third, decide the focus of the club/group/association, and find people to lead the various interests. For example, find an open canoe instructor, a kids kayak coach, or someone who enjoys working on conservation issues.
  • Finally, affiliate with a larger organization. Historically and still today, the ACA is the largest national organization of its kind in terms of sanctioning, supporting and producing paddle sport events.
River Network

River Network was founded in 1988. Its focus is on creating citizen activists, working on solutions to river degradation valley by valley and stream by stream. "We dedicated ourselves to the mission of building citizen groups to speak out for rivers in every watershed across the country."

  • First, be a partner with the River Network.
  • Second, read "Starting Up," the River Network's manual of all aspects of setting up an activists' group of river advocates. It gives advice on choosing a name, developing your mission statement, recruiting your board of directors, fundraising, creating a budget, working with the media, producing a newsletter, and so on. It also provides specific concepts and tools for building a strong and healthy river organization with a distinct focus on the watershed approach to river conservation.

Published since 1990 and sent free to 108 clubs around the country. Articles in "Confluence" are taken from club newsletters, compiled and then recycled to readers. Clubs are then free to print any article, from "Confluence," in their newsletter. Each club receives one free newsletter. The cost of this newsletter is met by paid subscriptions. For a subscription, contact: Marge Cline a.k.a. River Mom, 1343 North Portage, Palatine, IL 60067-1850

Paddle Sports and River Conservation Associations

American Canoe Association
American Whitewater Affiliation
American Rivers
Friends of the River
Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association
Global Rivers Environmental Education Network
International Rivers Network
River Network Online


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