Quitting the ACA

While you’re opening these conversations, could you throw the following in for consideration?

It’s great that ACA has programs for socioeconomically challenged kids. It’s a great way to expose city kids to something other than cement and basketball hoops, might just be the spark that changes their life for the better. There’s good value in that. But it doesn’t put butts in boats. These kids aren’t going home and saying “mom, I know you’re working 3 jobs and barely making ends meet, but can we buy a kayak?”. They’ve got nowhere to store one, no way to transport one, so kayak camp is a one and done until next year.

Instead, why can’t the ACA provide support for creating boat houses that have kayaks available. Create partnerships with manufacturers and local paddling clubs, some of whom already have facilities and might be willing to share; approach NRS, Seattle Sports, et al to both sponsor and promote clubs. It would give a younger set the chance to experience paddle sports with little investment and raise the profile of ACA (and the sponsors).

It would also improve paddling safety, something that is starting to draw concern from those who are regulation enthusiasts.

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This is unadulterated TRUTH! I have often said about my business is that the greatest challenge is people even knowing who we are. This is no different with the ACA.

I was taking with a person at CanoeCopia and they echoed the same sentiment. “The ACA is more focused on training instructors and paddlers”. Without an effort to reach out to clubs or Meetup groups, how are those instructors going to justify spending the money to get certified?

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I just want to say that Turning Point is one of the few businesses in the Chesapeake Bay area that specializes in kayak repair. Although I have not needed their services, every one of our members that has had a boat worked on there has been very pleased with the work and its cost.

I have not been an ACA member for a number of years but I have had conversations with them when they were pushing the “120 Degree Rule” regarding cold water safety. It was picked up by the USCG and many other kayaking related businesses. It still lives on in various areas of the internet. ACA only stopped pushing this in the last few years. This “rule” has no scientific basis and they were unable to tell me its origin or basis. They should have known better. They are near the Chesapeake Bay which in winter has some of the coldest water for a large body of water in the US due to its size and relatively shallow depth, and in the Spring can have water temperatures in the 40s with air temperatures in the 80s. There are several deaths every year related to sudden cold water immersion.

So my first experience with the aca was popping into a canoe clinic over 40 years ago. I think the sport, the curriculum, and instruction has come a long way since then. For one thing, the number of certifications for different craft has greatly increased. I think the aca and its members have been instrumental in all that development.

There is a huge difference between someone like me who mentors a bit, in a club setting, as a volunteer, and someone who is making their living from paddling. I certainly don’t have the profiency of many others. but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an impact others. Twice in the last ten days I have organized paddles via a local message board that included 16 individuals each day. A few of those folks have less than a year on ww so even the less proficient paddlesport volunteer like myself can make a difference with those folks. My profiency has increased a bit from aca training. That is all that I can claim. I know the aca has now delved a bit into “trip leading” cert. I hope they continue to delve into rec boat safety as well, a recent development.

My own personal standards are pretty low if you want my help. I do expect folks to wear a properly fitted pfd, dress for immersion, and paddle in a venue within their skillset and physicality. Notice there is nothing about money in that.

Sometimes when I get mired down in the “crap” that can surround paddling, a clinic, or even a message thread, I just go paddling to vent. Mistakes have been made on my part and by others over the last week on the water. I consider that to be part of the process. The folks I like to paddle with are the ones that are passionate about paddling. It is not a skill thing with me. Right now, Cuz, a friend of mine, is working on conditioning. I’ve been out paddling 9 out of the last 10 days. Proof that you can suck and still have fun. I think sometimes folks, especially paid professionals, forget that.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t take safety seriously. I can assure you that there is nothing fun about fatalities.


Words to live by!

Bee has brought up a great observation and inspired an idea.

Rowing clubs are struggling a bit. Financially it is getting much more expensive and often they are on land that is valuable and leased. I personally have contacts at four clubs in a 100 mile radius of Richmond and starting a conversation about expanding into fostering a paddling program is easy. One in particular has already opened their facilities to paddle-boarders and kayakers and it has helped tremendously.

The inspiration is that I have had the “conversation” with my ACA contact. It was an excellent and well spent 45 minutes. It could have gone a lot longer, but we both are on limited time and the conversation will be ongoing. So, in my next video, I am going to put the power of the interwebs to good use and invite people with ideas or observations to send them to my “contact us” website page. These can be complied and shared with the right people to get a constructive conversation going.

My apologies for the shock and awe video, but it has set in motion a very positive movement with change in mind. This was the end game all along.

For ideas and observations go to-

A our club used to be a Paddle America Club, but we ended out relationship about 15 years ago when they stopped offering event insurance. Another reason we quit was that we had a local ACA instructor that was almost predatory in protecting what he called “his territory” threatening to have other instructors certs cancelled. We went to the National office to complain and they basically did nothing. It was pretty obvious that all they were interested in was our yearly check for which we got very little in return other than a Subaru discount. Some of our members still keep their ACA membership and certs up to date, but we have done more on our own to promote paddling in conjunction with other local groups and municipalities, like creating a National Paddle Trail, doing regular cleanups and promoting activities like races and adaptive paddling. We never hear a peep out of the local ACA people.

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I have followed all this from a distance now for 3 years. As with so many organizations the ACA seems to have become more of a union than an organization dedicated to advancing the paddle sports. If I were to guess “Job #1” is to protect their job. Job #2 is to teach.

Now that is just my impression. But impressions are what advertising is all about.

Living in central Wyoming the ACA is mostly a “far away story”. There is supposed to be one instructor in Jackson, but he does only WW instruction’ and only a few times a year and so far he’s “only” going to return a phone call if and when he feels like it, because I was “only” a single new paddler and apparently he could not be bothered.

So I myself have NO contact with any ACA group or instructor by voice. By e-mail I have a limited amount of attempts going into California Washington and Oregon. Their agenda seems short and rigid, and costs are quite high if you were to gain enough of those classes to be truly meaningful.

And because it’s not a string of classes one man can do all back to back the cost of the 2000 mile round trip needs to attach to those classes several times over. High enough that driving 2000+ miles in addition to the cost of the classes and also food and lodging makes it not just impractical but nearly impossible for me.
Now is all this 100% true?
I can’t say with a degree of certainty.
I can’t say because of the afore mentioned fact that most of the contacts seem rather short and rigid and because it does seem so far that 1 man living a long way from those I have e-mailed is not important to them. What I can say for sure and for certain is those I have tried to contact so far are NOT any good at making me feel as if I’d ever take a chance on them because of the shortness of the classes, the lack of personal interaction I have seen 1st hand, and the fact that they don’t seem to have the slightest clue that in ANY service bases business an outgoing and friendly demeanor with future clients is as needful to them as a saw and hammer is to a carpenter.

So I am just giving my impression so far, and it’s worth exactly what it cost you. Nothing. But it may be an indicator as to a degree of systematic arrogance which is now the foundation of the “union” and if I am correct the ACA is probably doomed to business failure. I may be totally wrong, but expect I am NOT the only one who has tried to contact various ACA instructors and felt that way. And in marketing, impressions are 99% of success. You NEVER get ANY repeat customers if you don’t get 1st customers.

Charging high fees for something of high value is OK.

Charging less for the same high value is a guarantee of success.

Charging a high fee for something of unknown value is a risky gamble. Most wont take such a gamble.

Charging a high fee for a service of unknown value and mixing it with a large degree of arrogance to make the payers feel as if the instructors are doing them some sort of favor by accepting the customers money, and that for the limited time they will give the customers both in class and before that classes is a guarantee of failure over a short time.

And this kind of service/instruction is for fun. Not for things vital to life. So as the economy gets tight and money gets harder to come up with, fun-related business is going to suffer and those that left a bad impression the first time are NOT going to have someone working on a tight budget come back and re-think them at a later time.

That just doesn’t happen in the real world.
1st impressions really do count, especially in business.

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I don’t disagree, but the ACA has a $2 million/yr budget to support. Without being judgmental as to whether that’s a justifiable sum, it makes me think that “generating revenue” may be job #2 with teaching dropping to #3.

Our Club looked into affiliating with ACA for liability insurance, but a deep dive into their requirements determined that not only was it fairly expensive with additional fees for every event or paddle, but the paperwork was especially burdensome. As an all-volunteer organization nobody wanted to be saddled with this. We obtained liability insurance with a well regarded agency that was much easier to deal with and covered camping in addition to on water activities, which ACA does not.

ACA insurance might work for an organization that only runs a few on-water events a year and has people that are able to deal with the paperwork.

Each ACA instructor I know runs his/her teaching business differently. For many, it is their primary source of income so they must make a business decision, however rudeness to a fellow paddler (and potential customer) is never acceptable. You, as the consumer, get to choose which one fits your need. If I were turned off to someone based on a phone call, I would call someone else…maybe even in a different region.

Living in WY certainly makes it tough for you to get instruction locally, much as it was for me first in Jax FL 30 years ago and then on the MS Gulf Coast about 14 years ago. In the first situation, I was unwilling to drive 5-6 hrs to training and that retarded my learning. Luckily, over a decade later training came to my area one weekend. After that positive experience, I was willing to drive 10-13 hours (and flying to the West Coast) for subsequent training. And, I still do at least annually.

Paddling instructors, whether ACA, BC/BCU, or PC, are not equal. Find one with whom you can work and learn when you are interested in improving your paddling.

You make a good point.

Every college has profs that some students will find snooty, arrogant , pompous or difficult. How much responsibility does the college bear for personality deficiencies? As long as the instructor teaches a reasonable course, he would seem to be doing his job.

The ACA isn’t too different. Instructors operate independently, not under the direct oversight of ACA, other than teaching the required skills for each level and evaluating the student based on ACA standards. No instructor is obliged to accept a student, nor should they be as long as discrimination laws aren’t broken.

Several comments across this discussion have indicated that when complaints were lodged with ACA concerning an instructor’s attitude, nothing happened. No response, no acknowledgment, no follow-up on any investigation into the instructor. That is a bit of a management failure.

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Hi Hank.
Well now…I can’t say felt any correspondence was rude. It was more regimented and short. In 3 of the 6 cases it was non-existent. No call, no answers to any questions I asked in e-mail Nothing at all. And I did try “someone else”. A total of 7 times.
Now have found 3 men who are VERY willing to help and teach and one of them is a full time instructor in Canada. Answers phone calls, answers e-mails and has even given me advice in areas he perceived I’d need help with when I was yet too ignorant to know them yet myself. I have nothing but good to say about Paulo Ouelett.
Next is my Sisters coach. He is a pert time instructor and lives on a sail boat with addresses in both Hawaii and Alaska. He agreed to help me because of his friendship with my Sister and her Husband but wants to remain anonymous so I’ll not post his name here. He outfits a guide service and has a big clientele, so only teaches ocean kayaking part time, but he’s quite skilled and has an easy and friendly way of teaching. He stopped by here at my home last year on his way to visit some folks on Lake Michigan and in the short time he and I were on the lake together he taught me several thing I have found very helpful.
And there is Randy Knuff, also from Alaska. (I am unsure if Randy is still with us. I have not heard back from him in 2 years) He is a man that was wonderfully helpful in my early learning and super outgoing and attentive. A man with so much knowledge and experience it was overwhelming. Just talking to him on the phone he was able to make a diagnosis of my problems and offer solutions (Like Paulo does)
So I am not high and dry when it comes to experts who can help.
But the focus of the thread was the ACA, and what find a bit funny is that all the ACA instructors I have tried so far have been either short and unhelpful, or 100% nonexistent in their interaction with me, and from what I am told by others, many ACA instructors seem to think they have some kind of monopoly on kayaking knowledge which in my few years of kayaking I have proven to myself is simply not true. None of those that have helped me are ACA qualified. That doesn’t seem to keep their knowledge from flowing however.

Lastly there is one man I’d very much like to make contact with, but having no “social media” connections I have found it to be impossible so far. Here is his page. For myself I have only regular e-mail and an old land line phone with a copper wire that goes 1-1/2 miles to the nearest highway.

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It’s good you were able to have someone “pass by” to paddle with you in WY. Agree, Paulo has some good videos.

I recommend Paulo Quellete (Dancing with the Sea) to every new kayaker I meet.

In fact he’s often very helpful to paddlers with years of experience behind them also

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That’s Tim Gallaway. Greenland kayaking enthusiast. Super instructor, good guy. I’ll see if I can get an email for you.

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If he’s not too busy I’d really enjoy a few chances to corespond with him.

Let me know if you do manage to start up an email conversation.

I really enjoyed his Lake Superior series, learned a lot, but the only way I could reach him was by creating a fake farcebook account. I don’t want all my data scarfed up and sold so I have never had an account.

That might have been what put him off since details didn’t all match up (I used my deceased mother’s information for the account). I respect how careful you have to be on social media with all the oddballs out there, but he would only talk on fb messaging even after I came clean about what I was doing and gave him my real email so I deleted the fake account.

He does have a sterling reputation though and I was half tempted to go to the Delmarva Gathering last year just to meet him in person.

I also have no accounts with any “social media” owing to the fact that in my earlier life I rubbed shoulders with a lot of men and women “in the know” on the inner workings of government surveillance. The idea that “I say or do nothing wrong so I have nothing to fear’ is ignorant of how these people work and also of about 6000 years of recorded history. Those that think that way see only 1 side of a coin. If you are doing nothing wrong why is all your information being collected and saved”? That’s the logical question to ask yourself. Remember the Jews in Germany in the 1930 and early 40s didn’t have to do anything wrong.
Nor the Armenian Christians.
Or the Tutsies in Rwanda.
Or the Ukrainians in the 1930s.
Or the Chinese living in the Nanking area.
Or the Peruvians in 1780
and MANY more examples. The founding Fathers of the USA knew this and so it is written into the most sacred laws of the nation in our Bill of Rights, but sadly many many many government employees are employed to do the exact opposite of that their oath of office says they are bound to do.
Mass surveillance on innocents people through all recorded history has only ever been done for 2 reasons.
#1 to control them and
#2 to eliminate them.
There is no other reason, despite the lies told to everyone about how it’s for your own good.
Yet the Senate, the Congress and the Federal Courts ALL admit freely it’s being done.

I am pretty sure Tim is unaware of how compromising and potentially dangerous such things can get. He is likely not a student of history and less likely a student of military history. But if he knew I think he’s probably open up in other ways then just “Social Media”.

Nevertheless I believe he would be a wonderful man to learn from and a great guy to meet. His demeanor and his presentations are simply a joy to watch. I hope I have the opportunity sometime soon.

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Does every thread here have to get into politics? I don’t Facebook either, but I’m pretty sure nobody here cares.

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