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Old 11-22-2005   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855
NEW topic- growth

I moved my post in "teaching" to a new thread. The other topic seems to be changing issues with each new page--mostly my fault. Other post is great, but this deserves its own thread. --Peace

Getting the family involved is a harder topic to address as it involves changing a persons way of thinking about something from “is it safe, do I want to do this, do we have the time/money” from the person that doesn’t paddle to “We can do this”. The advanced kayaker must realize that the non-paddlers turned kayaker may never move beyond Class 2. But that will give the family something to do together and more than likely allow the more advanced paddlers to go and have adventures with their paddling buddies.
okay, for starters...the family, it would be great to get more families involved. This has a better chance of happening now that EJ has created a boat for the little ones. I have personally seen a *little* increase in kids kayaking. I think that will keep growing. **HOWEVER** I heard a theory about the biggest problem kayaking has about growth. This person mentioned that kayaking is missing an integral link to reaching a bigger audience. *A RESORT* It made sense to me. For example: A person is looking to learn how to ski. Who does he call? A resort. The ski industry has the manufactuer, the ski shop, and the resort. The resort makes it easy for this person(family) to come and learn how to ski. Also, there is 3 forms of marketing, which creates much bigger dollars to reach the consumers.

The kayak industry has the manufacturer, and the kayak shop (which usually includes the instruction) You only have 2 avenues to market kayaking. As you know, the kayak manufacturers only advertise to current paddlers, and the kayak shops market to current paddlers as well. The only ACTUAL marketing that is done to reach new paddlers is through very small instructional shops. At best, these instructional institutions reach the local population.

Second, kayaking is not a very accessible sport. It is not easy to find a river that suites all types of ability levels. In order for the whole family to enjoy one river they have to all be at the same ability level. Otherwise, mulitple shuttles are required or somebody is bored. This is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic.

Part of this issue can be addressed by getting more non-paddlers to attend Slalom events. Seeing the kids and women running the gates shows that everyone can be involved in kayaking and it doesn’t include huge water, normally. Another way is to offer free demos to kayaker’s families where they paddle around for awhile then do a wet exit to see it’s fairly easy to get out of their boat.

Dude - Are you serious? Attend Slalom events? That is like watching paint dry! That is not what will help growth. When I was 14 I wanted to huck, and be adventurous! I saw things that looked cool and wanted to mimick them. If I was 14 and I saw a dude wearing spandex, and carrying a really long fiberglass boat, and then boating down a couple of ripples I would most likely think that kayaking is LAME! Then I would go and buy a skateboard! Seriously, KAYAKING DOES NOT NEED MALES WEARING SPANDEX!! This could possibly be a top reason for the stunted growth of kayaking. I am all for women wearing spandex, in fact it might actually help the growth. I know why I want to learn how to surf...beaches...bikinis...adventurous...need I say more. But--dude--slalom?? They have had many years to appeal to the masses, it hasn't worked yet, will it ever? I am not dissin' on the slalom paddler, just the idea that this might help growth. (side note-if you want to learn good strokes, watch a good slalom paddler)

I am an advocate for creating events that are EXCITING for the mainstream consumer to watch. And yes, Ras, this does include a "mtn dew" theme. I don't think it is the ONLY thing that will help kayaking grow, but I do think it helps more than you would think. My personal experience with organizing an event that was really FUN to watch has proven this theory. My other proof comes from other industries such as, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding. ***You don't have to re-invent the wheel to be successful***

I do agree with free demos, and quick clinics to show what kayaking is all about would be a great benefit. The most common misperception is that people think it is hard to get out of the boats.

Just some more food for the other topic.

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Old 11-22-2005   #2
BastrdSonOfElvis's Avatar
Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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Posts: 989 don't know what you're talking ass looks incredible in spandex.

Seriously, though, why would we want kayaking to grow at the rate of other sports like skiing/boarding, scuba, etc? Let it grow at the pace it has been for the past's fast enough. People that really want to boat will figure out how...a buddy brought me in and I've returned the favor by teaching others and so on and that's how it goes. I'm certainly not trying to keep anyone off the river...that's rediculous...but have you had the misfortune of being at Breck on a saturday? Do you want, say, the Ark to look like that?

Every Nissan Xterra (and every other dufus suv) commercial has boats tied to the roof. I'm sure that will do enough to foster growth and get newbies on the river. The kayaking industry isn't going to die without legions of new boaters buying boats.

I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 11-22-2005   #3
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I have a growth - wanna see it?
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Old 11-22-2005   #4
Join Date: Oct 2003
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You should email me on this issue:

Ben Guska
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Old 11-22-2005   #5
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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PB-- I'm sure there's a free clinic somewhere nearby that could give you a much more informed opinion on your "growth" than any of us could!

Good luck with that, dude..... LOL
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Old 11-22-2005   #6
Denver, Colorado
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...but have you had the misfortune of being at Breck on a saturday? Do you want, say, the Ark to look like that?
Yes, I lived in Breck for 4 years. However, to avoid the crowds you simply ski E-chair, T-bar, and all of the hiking terrain. The longest line I experienced at e-chair was about 2-minutes. My point is that Breck is crowded in the areas I don't ski. And my guess, is that the people(tourists) who are skiing in the crowded areas are still enjoying what they are doing. My guess comes from the fact that I talked with them for four years about their skiing experience.

But, here is the important point about growth --- **THE GROWTH IN BRECKENRIDGE ALLOWED ME TO MAKE A LIVING!!!** This growth allowed me to enjoy my lifestyle; sure it would sometimes suck to wait in lines to get to the goods, but I had a job because of this lift line. Who am I to bitch about that.

Browns Canyon on a Saturday is already similar to the lower part of Breck on Sat. I won't go near Browns on a Saturday. But, go north to Pine Creek, #'s, Clear Creek, Lake Creek, and you will find almost no crowds. It will stay like that because as you know the majority of kayakers only want to do class 3, and I bet that these class 3 kayakers were still enjoying Browns on that crowded Sat.

It is a big world out there; there is a ton of rivers for everyone. There is plenty of room for reasonable-positive growth. BSOE-my assumption is that you have nothing to do with the industry. Am I right? You just enjoy kayaking as a sport, which is awesome. But, guess what, there is an industry full of good people, families, and guys like me who would love to see positive growth to support the life we love! These same people are helping to create the sport you enjoy so much; these same people helped to create the boat, and gear your ass uses, and they are just making it. Is it so much to ask that we find ways to grow the sport in a positive direction?

I am not asking to become a millionaire from this. I am just looking to help create a better living for the industry as a whole. I have tried to make a sustainable living through working in the kayak industry for the past 5 years. This 5 year era is ending in a month, because of this very cash poor industry. I am not giving up. I am just re-evaluating and educating myself to empower my ideas.

** FYI ** Whitewater kayaking has actually been declining in numbers of active paddlers for the past 3 years. Yes, industry numbers are DOWN! So, BSOE, I don't think you are telling enough people about kayaking

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Old 11-22-2005   #7
Join Date: Jun 2004
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This post probably applies more to this thread than where I originally put it as it really addresses growth, but I wrote it in response to a comment Mark made on a different thread.

Mark's ski resort comparison, likely came from the keynote speech by John Norton, the former CEO of Crested Butte, and a long-time paddler, at the recent Whitewater Symposium in Glenwood Springs. Believe me, the paddling industry people in the room were paying close attention to John's point that there is no comparable role in the paddling industry to that of resorts in the ski industry and it creates a gap in the paddling world's ability to relate to, understand, and maintain an ongoing relationship with their customers. This gap can be somewhat filled by paddling clubs and I hope what I posted below helps illustrate how.

Regarding Mark's comment about PPWC, in my opinion, what Pikes Peak Whitewater Club has done very well is reduce the barriers to entry into the sport, by providing pool sessions in the winter to help beginners come out and learn basic strokes and how to roll. We follow that up with structured beginner trips to build on the basic skills and apply them to the river. and last year for the first time, our ACA certified instructors ran courses for club members by enrollment to further aid new paddlers to learn and build on the basics.

Consider the importance of the support network as well, that helps beginners become self-sufficient with finding paddling partners once they have some of the basics down. With all the sponsored activities we have for beginners it helps them network with others at their level to put trips together on their own. I think the new Colorado Kayakers group for new paddlers did some nice work in this area last season as well.

Next season, PPWC will build on what they've done well in the past and add some activities to help class 3 paddlers gain additional skills to move competently into more challenging water, get more capable overall, and just enjoy paddling more. Check out our pro clinics, for one example of how we are approaching this. These clinics can help intermediate and advanced paddlers get a picture of what good fundamentals can open up for them and as such may stimulate some longer-term boaters to consider the value of more advanced lessons.

These are some examples of the role a club can play to attract and retain people in the sport. That doesn't mean that all clubs will play that role, but PPWC, in my opinion has the leadership and committment of a core group of members to make this type of contribution.

One other thing PPWC has done very well, is encourage the membership to support river stewardship by supporting American Whitewater.

From my perspective, if we attract more people to the sport we all benefit, the manufacturers can make more innovative products, the dealers and schools have a larger client base enabling them the opportunity to keep prices reasonable, and the organizations that support River issues important to all of us, such as AW, ACA and American Rivers have a stronger membership base.

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Old 11-22-2005   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Yes, Mike, you are correct about my comparison.

From my perspective, if we attract more people to the sport we all benefit, the manufacturers can make more innovative products, the dealers and schools have a larger client base enabling them the opportunity to keep prices reasonable, and the organizations that support River issues important to all of us, such as AW, ACA and American Rivers have a stronger membership base.
And, Thanks Mike! This above quote adds another important reason why growth is important.

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Old 11-22-2005   #9
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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I think that at the point kayaking is in right now that televised events are the best way to expose people. I live in Vail, and around Teva Mountain Games time, excitement levels run much higher for kayaking around town. Non-paddlers start to ask me what they would need to do to start paddling when I'm with them at the events, and so on. Same thing for TV.

If you wanted to increase the buzz about kayaking, find a way to make it part of the Summer X games, and you will see the type of exposure that would make a difference.
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Old 11-22-2005   #10
Denver, Colorado
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I agree with you, Whitelightning. The Homestake Creek race, boater X, then the Pine Creek boater X are the type of events that will have a chance to make Summer X a possibility. It definitely won't happen with Slalom events...sorry Ras...or even, I hate to say it... Rodeo. Rodeo has gotten more enjoyable to watch since the air tricks were invented, but it still only captures the non-kayaker audience for a short period of time.

The Pine Creek Boater X drew a great crowd, not all of them were kayakers, and they LOVED watching it. I heard it was the same for the Homestake race.


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