Adelaide Canoe Club connects community through Peer Paddle initiative

The Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) Peer Paddle initiative was established several years ago to address a shortage of qualified trip leaders within the Club. Like many other clubs there was reliance on a few members with guide or leader qualifications to lead trips undertaken by the Club and we were increasingly becoming worried about their burnout!

 Some members were participating in regular paddles and after building a reasonable skill level and attaining Sea Skills accreditation, they proposed leading what is now known as “Peer Paddles”. 

With advice and assistance from Paddle Australia, a  Peer Paddle definition was developed (see below) and paddles were promoted through GoMembership, ACC Facebook page and website.

Peer Paddle is a paddling activity in which all participants will be experienced paddlers with skills and experience relevant to the chosen activity for which there may not be any nominated leadership structure. Participants will be responsible for their own actions and decisions and will be prepared to actively contribute to trip and group safety decision making.

ACC President Mark Loram said that the Peer Paddle events have been embraced by the South Australian paddling community.

“Once the Peer Paddle definition was finalised, we started running regular Sunday paddles for our community – one from Semaphore South in more sheltered waters, and the other in more exposed waters south of Seacliff,” Loram said.

“The Semaphore paddler is about 12km in distance, while our Seacliff paddle covers approximately 22km each Sunday.

“The different distances provide a good transition for newer members and allows them to be gradually exposed to more challenging conditions such as rebound waves, or sections of coast with no easy exit beaches available – all while remaining safe under the guidance of our leaders.

“As a club, we make sure to conduct beginner training with the safe waters at West Lakes before allowing new members to participate in Peer Paddles,” he said. 

The ACC Peer Paddle program provides club members with the ability to paddle on a regular weekly or twice weekly basis, or even choose between the “Peer” or programmed event if this suited the individual’s circumstances better.

“We have had gradually increasing numbers participating in these events, ranging from six to 12 paddlers,” Loram said.

“We have also seen the skills of our members gradually improve over the last twelve months, during which past president Bernard Goble initiated a Leadership Program strategy with the assistance of recognised National Training Provider Phil Doddridge to develop and run the program. This program was kick-started by allocating funds from a $5,000 grant obtained the previous year by earlier President Ian and Treasurer Nicky Brunning.

“This has now resulted in several Club members achieving successful Paddle Australia Qualification Scheme (PAQS) certification. This has essentially overtaken the need to conduct Peer Paddles although we still retain the option for our members. It is also a good way for members seeking PAQS accreditation to gain leadership experience and confidence, particularly with trip preparation and briefings. 

“We have now also developed a paddling calendar out to July 2022.  This means that trip leadership will be provided by the range of recently qualified leaders, so that we no longer have to rely on Peer Paddles to sustain the Club,” he said.

More information about the ACC Peer Paddle events is available on the club’s Facebook page – click here

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