I Am A Club Boater

  • I am a member of at least three local organizations and pay annual dues of a whopping $20 each.
  • I volunteer my time to those clubs, serving on the board, leading trips and teaching classes.
  • One of those clubs owns take-out property locally and works hard to maintain it and keep it open for recreational use. Despite how people trash it.
  • I have been yelled at as a club board member, by neighbors and other boaters, for either doing too much, or too little when it comes to that property.
  • I earned my ACA certifications and paid for them myself, all so I could follow in the steps of those that taught me. I want to continue the tradition of teaching and bringing more people to the sport.
  • I work all week at my business, load my truck late on Thursday night or early on Friday morning so that when I finish work, I can drive to find water and my friends.
  • I donate to American Whitewater, and the ACA, both for different reasons, but both are equally important to maintaining river access, and safe boating standards.
  • I am passionate about my sport, sharing it with others, and doing so in a safe manner.
  • I support outfitters in state (not many left), and out of state, by buying gear, boats, attending their events and bringing others to their store.

What I am not:

  • I am not sub-standard because I’ve never worked for an outfitter. My certifications to teach came from hard work. And, while I don’t teach every day, I do teach a lot. I’ve maintained my L4 WW kayak certification since 2004, and I’ve volunteered my time to toughen those standards. And I continue to work and build on my skills.
  • I am not a Class V boater (working on Class IV) but neither are a lot of people. And, the majority of people who want to learn to kayak just want a form of recreation to do with friends and family.
  • I am not competition to outfitters and instructors in other states or this state for that matter. In fact, if you were smart you would see that clubs feed people to outfitters for more advanced instruction.
  • I am not giving up. Over the years it has gotten increasingly more difficult for clubs to lead instruction on rivers such as the Hiwassee, Ocoee and we can’t even touch the Nantahala. The forestry service has told us we are either too late, or they don’t return our emails and phone calls when we apply. In Alabama, the majority of our rivers are natural flow. Yes, we teach on local rivers as a club, but our local season comes in the winter – not really a warm environment for a beginner.

Why am I writing this?

I hear the term ‘club boater’ being floated around as if it’s a bad thing. It’s not. At least not in my book. If we didn’t have our clubs here in Alabama we would not have a lot things that we currently enjoy like the Alabama Cup Races or access to the Mulberry. And, the Friends of the Locust Fork are doing an amazing job collaborating and trying to keep access to the Locust Fork River. Think about that when it comes time to pony up that $20 for a membership.

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