SPECIAL MEMBERS' MEETING Sunday 23 November 2014
ON THE FUTURE OF INVERNESS CANOE CLUB
Charleston Community Centre, Inverness
Sunday 23 November 2014
11.00am – 3.30pm
Over the last few years we’ve seen quite a few changes in Inverness Canoe Club. We are now a big club of just over 240 members.
Each year the Introduction to Paddle Sports (Spring) Course is well subscribed. People move through the club: some have established a sister club in Nairn and more recently a Kayak Polo club. The Club was originally a strong river paddling club, but in recent years we’ve seen fewer new river paddlers, although there is still a sizable group kayaking white water. Sea paddling is growing from strength to strength. Canoeing remains a minority interest, although with some strong aficionados (including myself!). The pool sessions remain popular, although perhaps less so than a few years ago when I joined. Our come and try day this year had an astonishing 150 plus people attend. Our rental fleet has been renewed, allowing us to offer a little more for young people with new boats and kit. While we have some fantastic people coaching, perhaps due to changes at BCU level, alongside reduced funding support, attracting new coaches and developing them is proving problematic. Perhaps most pressing over the last few years has been the issue of the club base. Although progress may seem slow, it now seems certain that the Muirtown Basin will be developed at some point and we will be faced with the challenge of finding a new home for the Club (perhaps still with the Scouts and at the basin?).
All of which raises some fundamental questions:
What direction should the club take? What should it provide? How can it achieve those goals?
The committee can’t answer such questions on its own. We need to understand what members value from the Club? What would you change or improve?
Are we simply a network of people who want to go paddling, or should we aspire to be something more? Should we offer more courses for members (perhaps using external providers) and how should that be paid for? What coaching support should we provide and what models might work best for the club? Should we provide more support for would-be coaches, provide more access to first aid and safety and rescue courses? What about encouraging new disciplines or competitive sport? Should the club cater more for young people? If yes, then how do we make that happen? What about novices? Is the emphasis too much on beginners, or is it about right?
Deciding on our priorities also will also help us agree what is the best option for the club base, which isn’t just about bricks and mortar or cost, but rather is about how we would use it to achieve the goals of the Club?
To try and answer these questions the committee is organising a workshop on Sunday 23rd November at Charleston Community Centre, Inverness from 11.00am – 15.30pm. It’s open to all members and we hope many of you will come along. There’ll be tea and coffee available and we’re suggesting you bring a picnic lunch or sandwich. We know it’s a day not paddling but it’s really important we get your views about the future of the Club. I promise you’ll be doing most of the talking and we’ll be doing the listening! We plan a series of workshops and past president, Malcolm Wield, has agreed to help facilitate the day. This will make sure we have a good level of neutrality in the chairing, although hopefully we’ll all have a lot in common anyway! There is no need to book and we should have plenty of places, but it will help us if we have an idea of numbers, so if you feel like dropping me an email to say you are coming that would be helpful. To help us prepare for the event, we’ve put around a questionnaire, so even if you can’t make the day, you can contribute. (We hope to have some preliminary results on the 23rd). But please come if you can!
I look forward to hearing from you all. Happy paddling!