Just to let you know, in case you hadn’t heard, the Members’ day held on Sunday went really well, with some very positive thinking and great ideas coming out of it. Attendance was a bit lower than we hoped, but small is beautiful, and 23 members spent three and a half hours looking at the aims and priorities of the club. This, and the excellent number of returns from the questionnaire, which had a very good 64% return rate, will provide a great platform to plan the future direction of the club. Past president and ICC founding member Malcolm Wield facilitated the day, and we used small groups, dynamic workshops and topic groups as a way of covering the ground.
We started with a brief introduction to why the meeting had been called. Things were coming to a head with the current site for the club’s base, and few options existed, but these all raised wider questions about what the club aspired to do or to be. Additionally, although some recent events had been very successful and well attended, others had not been so well supported, and that coupled with the odd remark from certain members, raised the question as to whether the club was meeting members’ aspirations. It also highlighted the need for members generally to support events: so while the recent questionnaire revealed 95% of the club thought the open day was a good thing, (and it attracted an amazing 150 or so participants), relatively few members actually attended. Perhaps most pressing was the decline in the number of coaches in the club and the implications for our ability to take novices out on the open water.
Everyone looked at the individual reasons why we had joined the club and what things we wanted to change. The meeting agreed that people joined the club for three key reasons: To learn to paddle and to develop skills; to build up experience and qualifications in coaching and leading; and to meet other paddlers. So whatever the club does has to be built around these objectives. The meeting also suggested we needed to capture these points in a mission statement – so that is what is happening! There was also strong support for a clearer pathway to help all paddlers to become independent and proficient, and for help and support for those who wanted to develop their coaching and leadership skills.
Before we considered next steps, we heard from Laura Bruce, our Events and Publicity officer, about the results of the recent questionnaire. She’d had an amazing response rate, way above what you might normally expect for a questionnaire of this sort, with over 120 responses. So thank you everyone, you must really care about your club. We heard how around half the club is made up of people who had been paddling less than two years, but there are also quite a few of us who had been paddling a lot longer. The majority of us are individual members and there is a wide age range, but half the club started paddling when they were over 40!. Currently around 75% of the club are principally sea paddlers, with most of us describing ourselves as intermediate paddlers. There are also a lot of skills out there: just under 20% of the respondents appear to be at 4 star standard in one or more disciplines. People said how important the trips were to them and there was good support for the format for pool sessions and the introductory “spring” course. Of course there was strong agreement on the need for a good website, (something we have just let a contract to fix) and we discovered around 60% of us were Facebook users (so not an inclusive communications tool). I can’t summarise the whole survey here but it’s a really valuable resource going forward about the club, and we’ll make the results and the anonymised comments available to members.
Turning to the future, the meeting looked at four areas: What do you look for from the club? What changes would make most difference to the club? What are the things that prevent the club doing more? and What are the priorities for the club? We followed these workshops, to which all contributed, with a session on action planning by the whole group. It identified some key areas and some suggested actions for each. The main priorities were: a clear skills development and coaching pathway, improved communications, better prioritisation and sharing of tasks more widely (it’s everyone’s club), and the need to now resolve the question of the club base. On communications, we needed to, not only complete the work in overhauling the website, but also use other media better and think about the way we talked to each other using these various technologies to communicate. On both the club base and coaching, the informal topic groups held over lunch generated some great new ideas.
This brief report can only give a flavour of the discussions. We’ll be posting the flipchart material shortly and be drawing on the ideas generated over the coming months. We want to keep the momentum up! Thanks to everyone who contributed to questionnaire responses and to the members’ day. Thanks too, to Malcolm and all who helped organise the day. As you’d expect the day was punctuated by some excellent cake (this is the ICC after all, even if the “C”s in the abbreviation don’t actually stand for cake!) and I think everyone enjoyed participating, even though the sun was shining outside. Watch this space for more news.