New Strategic Plan Means Change of Direction for Paddle Canada

Wednesday, 03 April 2013

Paddle Canada LogoBack at the end of January I had the pleasure to be invited to attend a strategic planning meeting for Paddle Canada. I got invited because I’m the Chair of the Sea Kayak Program Development Committee. The goal of the weekend meeting was to develop a 3-year plan and it already had a catchy title: Float Plan for Success.

The reason for the meeting came about because the Board of Directors felt the organization was just about to enter a new phase in the life of the Organization. For those who studied the long and sometimes weird boring history of Paddle Canada will remember several years ago when the Organization had major financial trouble that left it hanging on for dear life. Thanks to good leadership at the top who made some tough choices, Paddle Canada has come back stronger than ever and is now ready to tackle some new projects.

Overall the weekend was a lot of fun (as fun as strategy development can be I guess) and filled with lots of fellow paddling policy wonks nerds like me who were happy to chat the days (and evenings) away talking about how to turn all Canadians into paddlers.

A couple of days ago Executive Director, Graham Ketcheson posted a pdffinished report about some of the changes you will see over the next 3-4 years. If you are bored already the short summary is that the new strategic plan isn’t ground breaking but it is a change in direction for the organization.

Here are a couple of highlights:

1) New Vision and Mission Statements
The new Vision and Mission Statements have a stronger focus on the development of its paddling instructional programs and the development of complementary partnerships with other organizations.

2) Strategic Priorities and Goals
After hours of brainstorming as a group we boiled down the ideas into four major categories which are Public Awareness & Membership, Youth, Partnerships and Instructor Development.

  • Public Awareness & Membership
    Paddle Canada is seen publicly as the authority for safety and education for paddling. Paddlers and organizations value membership in Paddle Canada.

    This one isn’t rocket science. We want to make more Canadians aware that a) Paddle Canada exists and b) we are the experts for all things recreational paddling. This will likely mean the development of more public awareness campaigns and membership drives, etc.
  • Youth
    Paddle Canada engages youth to participate in recreational paddle sports and to grow a vibrant Canadian paddling community.

    Paddle Canada supports youth in healthy lifestyle choices and appreciation of the natural environment.

    This just makes sense. We need to focus stronger on Canadian youth if we want more people paddling tomorrow. Look for youth focused programs to be developed and stronger partnerships with organizations that already have inroads with youth.
  • Partnerships
    “New and existing Paddle Canada partners support and promote common goals and values.

    Paddle Canada's goal is to: Strengthen and grow relationships with new and existing partners, in order to support the Paddle Canada Vision.”

    It’s a lot easier to work with friends rather than strike out on your own and from what I hear; Paddle Canada is often approached with partnership proposals so over the weekend they were able to develop a rough framework to help decide which proposals to explore further.

    For example, a very interesting project that Paddle Canada has been working on is the development of new water safety programs with AdventureSmart. AdventureSmart is a national program to encourage Canadians to “Get informed and go outdoors” by offering online resources as well as instruction to small groups like Scouts, school groups, hunting clubs, etc.

    They offer a wide variety of safety programs to kids and adults alike such as Hug-A-Tree, Survive Outside Program (trip planning and basic survival) and Snow Safety. 
  • Instructor Development
    Paddle Canada is seen publicly as the authority for safety and education for paddling. Paddlers and organizations value membership in Paddle Canada.

    Some of the proposed projects here include the development of new teaching resources for instructors as well as getting all of our manuals translated into French.


That does this all mean for Paddle Canada?
There are a couple of advantages to formalizing a strategic plan. As I mentioned earlier, none of these were ground-breaking revelations or direction changes. What it does do is to make sure that the members of the Board of Directors are on board with the new plan and everybody has bought in. The second (and more important) outcome of it is that the Board has developed a clear set of “marching orders” for the Executive Director to take and figure out how to implement over the next 3-4 years. This gives him a lot more freedom to work with people and grab the opportunities as they come along without wondering what the board thinks about this new direction.

What does this mean for you as a member or instructor member?
It means that there is going to be a whole lot more work coming down the pipe for the volunteers so we will need your help. If you have 10 minutes of free time on your hands and are interested in helping out, get in touch with Graham and he can set you up.

More info:

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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