Starting a Paddling Club

I’am looking into starting a club in Helena, M.T. and was wondering where I could find info on starting one?

Try the ACA…American Canoe Association. They can give you some good guidelines and possibly set you up as an associate/affiliate organization.

Paddling “Group” First…

– Last Updated: Oct-26-06 5:32 AM EST –

depending on how formal your club, you may assume all sorts of liability. Better off to start a yahoo group for local paddlers. Cost you nothing to create a group. State outright on the group page that there is no leadership just "equal" paddlers, each assuming the inherent risk involved.

I used a Yahoo group for northeast surf paddlers over 4 years ago. We went from about 5 initial members to over 130 (really about 60 "active" members who show up to surf as opposed to lurkers) and outgrew the limited features of the Yahoo group site but not the informal nature of the group. I had checked into the possibility of becoming an ACA affiliate. In my opinion, totally not worth the bureaucracy, effort and expense. I paddle to have fun, not to create a second job for myself. I also don't want any implied official status where there's assumption of leadership and responsibility for anyone showing up to surf paddle in a given day. I want everyone to assume responsibility for themselves. Surf is a dynamic environment. I don't want to be with anyone who can't handle and, more important, take responsibility for being out there.


I agree with Sing
except for a different reason.

The first time el presidente told me to put on my PFD, I would give him the middle finger and tell him I want my annual dues back.

Why not just get together with a group of paddlers like is done on “the getting together and going paddling forumn”?

No rules, no regulations, but they always turn out to be fun and usually there are new and lasting friends made.



Paddle Clubs
As soon as you form a paddle club you inherit all the baggage of bylaws, meetings, financials, insurance, elections, etc… and you may never actually go paddling. All you really need is a forum to link interested paddlers (like they said above).

At some point process and paddling are mutually exclusive. Paddling should be about the experience and not about the herding of cats.

Good Idea Sing
Well that is basicly what I was thinking of thanks for the addvice. I looked at the ACA web site last night and seems like way to much to go through inorder to get out and have some fun. But the Yahoo site seems to be the best answer for me right now.

we started one a couple of years ago.
Check it out. It helped that our co-founder is a web designer.

local issues
If there are local issues (pollution, access, speed limits, banning jetskis, boat registration, etc.) that your group might want to address, you’ll get heard and be more respected as an organized group that is a member of a nationwide organization.

A group of casual paddlers will be written off as a bunch of troublesome partiers who probably couldn’t even get organized enough to rub two sticks together to start a fire. You won’t be a threat to the politicans and bureaucrats, so they’ll just politely listen to you and do what they were going to do in the first place.

On the other hand, if you just want to create a group of casual paddlers not interested in starting a fire, go the yahoo route as advised above.

In Helena Montana
I would think a local group would have a lot more influence on local issues, than citing membership in a national organization. Maybe just my opinion but I think that’s true in most States in the Mountain West.

Completely agree with sing
Why not just have a group of enthusiasts on an e-mail list? Get some folks together and go have fun. Keep it simple, light, and fun. Some seem to love clubs and formality though?

Leave the jet skiers alone!

The Penn_Kayaking Group
was formed just two years ago for people to get together on “peer paddles” and it has blossomed into a wonderful group of paddlers who like to get together and paddle. You can take a look at it on Yahoo! Groups:


local group?
you missed something here –

I’m referring to an organized local group that is affiliated with a national organization, such as yacht and sailing clubs’ affiliation with Boat U.S. vs. and unorganized local group.

Also YAMs & CAMs
Penn_Kayaking is a great example of an informal Yahoo group.

We also have one at:

Keep it informal and it’s more fun and less headache.

Yahoo will work - but a thought - -
See if there are any others around your area via the “getting together and paddling message board”

Who knows what you may find. Post a trip your planning on taking and see if anyone wants to go along.

One of the local bunch in Ohio did do their own website / message boards via Yahoo. This is a bit more formal, but way below a full blown club The Bradstreet Kayakers in Cleveland Ohio.

Yahoo – Despite Limitations…
allows a group to store different files, e.g. put in directions, cautions, pics, etc. that are relevant to local paddlers.

PNet doesn’t allow for that, unless you post into the “Places2Paddle”. But, here you can’t update or change once it’s up.


Another testimony for yahoo groups
We started a club in eastern Ohio a few years ago with ACA affiliation. Lots of paperwork, annual fees, and really no upside. We found that we weren’t even following the paperwork rules that ACA required, so even if we did run into trouble, our expensive insurance wouldn’t cover us. Someone who is lawsuit happy is looking for the deep pockets to sue, so ACA becomes a target, and has no choice but to impose a lot of burdensome rules and pay a lot for insurance.

After a year, we disbanded as a formal club and became “Southeast Ohio paddlers.” We use a yahoo groups forum to get the word out to people about planned events, which are all “show and go.” One Thursday a month, we meet at a local coffee shop to shoot the breeze and rough out the next month’s paddles. The change to an informal group with no dues, officers, etc., has been a smashing success. In an area where kayaking is still relatively uncommon, we get six to twelve people to show up to most of our events, usually every Saturday and Tuesday evenings. It’s an awesome group, with great folks. I’d encourage you to go the yahoo groups forum approach, maybe get it started by posting a note in the local newspaper for a meeting at a local coffee shop. Print out some slips of paper with your yahoo groups forum address, and keep them in your glovebox (and maybe some in a ziploc bag in your boat) and give them to people you encounter on the water.

Yahoo been berry good to us
Our local paddling club uses Yahoo to shoot the breeze, post pics and reports, and promote trips.

We’re in our 7th year at Yahoo and despite the increasing ads and reducing service, consider it great value for the price (free).

"Not Herding Cats…"
works for me! Usually, if I don’t mind company, I post when and where I’ll be. If others show, fine. If they don’t, fine… I am out there anyway. Ditto for others in the group.

That’s a point of attraction for me of the “informal” route. None of the endless back and forth for me. Others do that sometimes. I don’t care much. (Caring too much about what others are doing/thinking is a waste of time in my opinion.) It’s a local board and they can indulge in the way they like. But, personally, I much rather “walk” than talk about how to “walk.”


We have an informal club

– Last Updated: Oct-28-06 11:15 AM EST –

not far from your location.