Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Group Paddling Creed

One of my readers (yes there is at least one other person who reads this) sent me a link to Wayne Horodowich's University of Sea Kayaking site. Under the "Reflection's from the Cockpit" section he has many interesting observations. One that caught my eye was Group Paddling Creed.
After listing a number of common frustrations, he starts the creed off:

When I choose to paddle in a group I realize I have a certain responsibility to the group. I understand the group members can be on the paddle for different reasons. Some of my personal desires and freedoms may take second place to the needs of the group.

The list of principles he presents are all common sense. Some of them are part of the RIC/KA paddling guide lines. Others are common courtesies. They all remind the paddler what it means to be a good group member. Together they are tools to ensure that all members of the group enjoy the paddle.
If leaders recited this creed before a group paddle leaves the beach, they'd establish that when you join a group paddle you are part of a cohesive unit. Paddlers who choose to join the paddle will know what is expected of them. Once the expectation that you paddle as a group is set, the paddle has a greater chance for success.
The message that "I'm not responsible for your choice to paddle. Only you are responsible for your own safety" is counter to ensuring group cohesion and responsibility. Without an established sense of responsibility, paddles have the chance to become dangerous and frustrating. It is hard to ensure that paddles are enjoyable and safe for all. Without a sense of group responsibility, there is no such thing as a group paddle.
One kayak may look like an island, but no man is an island.

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