Green Wave Forum

Building a Paddle Club - Part 1

Options: Green Wave Forum News, Paddling, Login to Post 

Hank Brooks |
Published Friday, December 01, 2006

Building a Paddle Club


Are you interested in starting a new kayak or canoe club or taking your current paddling club to the next level? If the answer is yes, Hank Brooks and the Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers (TBSK) Marketing Committee is here to help with numerous ideas on how you can increase membership and participation.

The principles found here can be adopted by any sports club - biking, hiking, scuba, skiing and so forth. Does it work? Absolutely. TBSK was rated the #1 paddling club in America in 2005 by the American Canoe Association.

Let's get started.

Leadership is Key

It all starts with a leader who is willing to take the time and effort to help create or improve a club. Someone who is willing to get things organized and develop a plan, get people to "volunteer to help" and the make sure things go according to plan. This is often a retired person or someone with time, skill and commitment. If you don't have a strong leader that makes time for the club, it will be difficult to achieve any of these improvements.

Marketing/Club Improvement Committee

You need to get a group of interested people to help you plan the future of your club. The right sized group is three to eight people. The key requirements of committee members are:

  • Have a keen interest in improving the club
  • Have the time to attend meetings and do research
  • Are willing to work as a team

I would be surprised if you got sufficient volunteers by simply asking for a "show of hands" at a meeting. This usually requires a "one-on-one" approach either during a paddle or at a meal.

Survey the Marketplace

Before getting started on building your club, we recommend surveying the marketplace. The easiest way to do this is to use a web search engine to find clubs similar to yours. You can often find a list of clubs and email addresses for similar clubs in the U.S. We found one for kayak clubs on the Sea Kayaker Magazine web site. The American Canoe Association has another list of US clubs. Green Wave Forum lists many outdoor and sporting clubs in Florida. A review of the web sites can give you great info on other clubs:

  • Charter and organizational structure
  • Dues structure
  • Calendar of events
  • Methods of communications with members (some have websites only, some also have a newsletter)
  • Benefits their club offers

Decide What Type of Club You Want To Be

The people on your marketing / club improvement committee must decide what type of club you want to be and how much time and effort is available to make the club work. We are not saying that one type of club is better than the other. Each type of club meets a different set of needs. Some types of clubs include:

Type of Club What is Required
Full Service Club : Offers a web site, monthly newsletter, monthly meetings, has organized club activities, publishes on a monthly calendar, provides skills training, offers ACA membership. The Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers are such a club.
This is the most difficult to organize and run. It requires a lot of club officer time and effort to make the club run well and costs vs. income must be monitored closely.
Partial Service Club: Offers some of the services of the full service club, but not all. For example, they may not have a club newsletter. An example of such a club is the Austin Paddling Club.
The more services you offer, the more difficult and costly it is to manage and operate your club.
Web Site Club: Offers everything over the web. No meetings. People meet, post events and communicate thru the web. The North Shore Paddlers are a good example of this type of club.
This is the simplest and least expensive to run. It mainly requires a good web master. The rest is free form and is driven by individual member time and interest.
Email Group: This is a list of people who contact each other to paddle - not a real club. They do not claim to be a club, do not have a web site and people are invited to infrequent paddles via email. Sometimes the paddle invites are automated thru services such as Evite. An email list of people who like to paddle and someone willing to send out the emails and organize the paddles.

Planning, Organization and Commitment

Every great club begins with planning, organization and time commitment. If you don't have these things, you will never really get your club "off the ground". Some great ways to get started include:

  • Install Good Club Officers: It all begins with club officers who have sufficient time to work on the club. You start by choosing an effective club president. Concerned club members need to recruit this person. After the president is selected by club members, he / she needs to personally recruit (one-on-one) each fellow club officer until the club cabinet is filled with nominees. These elected club officers should make up your Steering Committee or Board of Directors. The board should meet monthly. An excellent source of people with some extra time is retirees. DO NOT wait until the day of club officer elections and stand before the membership and ask for nominations. By doing so, you cannot expect to get quality people to be your officers. This is too important to be left to chance.
  • Club Charter: Check similar clubs to ensure that you have a good Charter, Articles of Organization and the Club Officer positions you need.
  • Goals & Budget: If you want your club to improve you need to set goals for your Steering Committee and measure progress against them. You also need to establish a budget that measures club income against expected expenses on an annual basis. The required club dues will follow from this.

Have Compelling Reasons to Join Your Club

There should be several compelling reasons for joining your club. Make a list of all the club benefits and test market them with some non-members who paddle. Do they have sufficient reason(s) for them to join? Conversely, look at why people may not want to join.


Part 1:Getting Started, Part 2:Participation , Part 3:Membership

Last update Thursday, July 30, 2009

Related Articles

Calusa Blueways / FPTA Board Meeting (11/3/2010)
All about Tandem Kayaks (11/29/2009)
2009 Calusa Blueway Paddlers Festival (10/29/2009)
Emergency Contact Cards (9/6/2009)
Paddler's Float Plan (9/6/2009)
Florida Paddlers' Rendezvous 09 (8/21/2009)
No More Oops Paddling Checklist (8/15/2009)
Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) (5/14/2009)
Finding the Right Paddle Length (5/14/2009)
Do I need a Rudder? (5/13/2009)

Cmt Building a Paddle Club - Part 1Login to Post   
You are in the public comment zone. What follows is not from Green Wave Forum; it comes from other people and we don't vouch for it.

   No comments so far.