Reflections from the Cockpit
"The Gift of Kayaking"

After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner Hadley & I were talking about traditions when I mentioned to her I always enjoyed watching "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge being played by Alastair Sim (1951). So I popped the DVD into the player and we watched this classic. As always, I was crying at the end because good old Ebenezer realized the spirit of Christmas. For obvious reasons I started reflecting on the joy of sharing and giving to others. Just then my computer toned and said, "you have new mail." When I looked there were four e-mails from my local kayaking club mail server.

In the last few days I have read close to fifty e-mails from our local kayaking club members responding to all sorts of issues. I always love reading the comments being shared by others. In this season of sharing and giving thanks I want to take this time to thank all of you who are in clubs who take the time to share your ideas & experiences through e-mail. I also want to thank the club members who organize trips, practice sessions & get-togethers. Of course a big thanks to the club officers who are highly paid for the time they volunteer.

From my travels around North America and also reading newsletters from other clubs the theme seems to be the same. Club members with some experience share that experience and enthusiasm with others. I was going to say the people are the same but the names are different. In fact I think most clubs have their Steve’s, Mike’s, Jen’s, Paula’s, David’s, Patricks’s, … I bet you even have your Duane’s who decide to jump in their kayak to see if they can paddle for 100 miles non-stop just for the heck of it. Right now the latest barrage of e-mails is giving support and compliments to one of our members who is building his own kayak.

When I get home from work I usually ask Hadley if we have gotten any e-mails. Many of the days she says, "the club is at it again". I ask her (with a silly grin and a chuckle), what issue are they beating to death now? Even though I kid with my wife about the clubs ability to discuss an issue to the Nth degree, I always look forward to reading the different points of view expressed by the club members. I may disagree with some of the opinions being expressed but I think it is important for this type of forum to exist. A free exchange of ideas makes for thinking paddlers. We also have some members (little devils) who like to get others riled up just to the keep dialogue flowing.

Since good judgment is learned from experience and experience is gained from bad judgment I think the collective sharing of ideas in these club e-mails is a wonderful learning tool. Aside from discussing serious kayaking issues (safety equipment, proper training, immersion clothing, etc), club members have shared the best places to get deals on equipment, which equipment works or doesn’t work, how to repair equipment, launching and landing spots and what age is appropriate to own a Tilley Hat. I must admit I always pity the retailer or manufacturer who doesn’t back their product because in one press of the send key the entire local kayaking community knows about it. The club also informs members which businesses excel in good customer service and those who back their merchandise.

As a side note, we have an extensive club resource page on the USK website. If you are a member of a paddling club and you do not see your club listed on the USK club page please e-mail us and we will get your club listed and linked. I know of a number of paddlers who have used our club page to get info from other clubs before they traveled to their locale. For those of you who are not involved with clubs you may wish to check in your area to see if you have this valuable resource available to you.

I can go on for quite a while as to the benefits gained by club members who are willing to share with others in the kayaking community but I really wanted to say thank you to all club members everywhere who do share the GIFT OF KAYAKING. Please keep up the great work because you make our sport better every time you share.

Wayne Horodowich


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