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CAM in Review.... Are we on the right path?


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#1 Doug

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 01:11 PM

Below is the official breakdown of CAM (Common Adventure Model)
I am interested in getting feedback from both new members and old with respect to CAM.
Do you think it has a positive affect on NSPN or would you like to see the designated "Trip Leader" format brought back, or both?.

I joined the club when CAM was already in place. It was something I simply went along with, never questioning the pros and cons until the past year or so.
I wonder, are old members reluctant to post trips because they don't necessarily feel comfortable with CAM?
Are new members confused about CAM and would rather have trips led by a designated trip leader?

I know that CAM partially evolved when the club dropped ACA as it's sponsor. ACA offered NSPN insurance which was needed when scheduling pool sessions. This also, may I add, came at a very high monetary cost reflected by inflated dues. That need no longer exists but there comes into play now the liability factor, to a degree, when posting "Trip Leader" paddles. CAM seems to cover us.... or not?

I believe that all trips, CAM oriented or not still have a trip leader but this is not apparently how CAM operates, by definition at least. (I'm sure that statement will get shredded!)
As someone's skill level progress, they may seek out advanced ACA and/or BCU training and certification. These are trip leader based, not CAM based.
Is following CAM driving away these advanced paddlers as they pursue trip led ventures in order to obtain certifications?
I believe NSPN could use their leadership in posting more kayak trips at all levels.

I most likely have stirred up a hornets nest. My intentions are to help this club grow and continue to be a catalyst for everyone to have more paddling opportunities.
I'm trying (but seemingly have failed) to keep this fairly short with a glimpse in general terms in order to get the ball rolling.
I would like to discuss your responses at future board meetings.

These are my concerns and in now way necessarily reflect that of other Board Members.

Your feedback is appreciated.

Doug






Common Adventure Trip Defined
A Common Adventure trip is two or more individuals working cooperatively for common goals and sharing expenses and responsibilities as equitably as possible. There are no paid guides. Any instruction or advice provided by any member of the group is given gratuitously in a spirit of cooperation. Members of the group do not hold one another or others liable for accidents.

On a Common Adventure trip, everyone is expected to share in the responsibilities of the trip. The trip initiator (the person who posted the trip) simply gets the ball rolling. The rest of the group is expected to help plan for the success of the trip, from the arrival at the launch and beach briefing until the trip has ended and everyone is safely on their way home. The success or failure of a common adventure trip rests not in the hands of the trip initiator, or NSPN, but rather in the hands of everyone that participates in the trip.

Common Adventure trip postings, in turn, provide a means of getting people together to participate in a paddling trip that might not have been possible if they had tried to do it alone. Any NSPN member is welcome to initiate a Common Adventure trip to be placed on the NSPN Calendar. These trips are available for all NSPN members that have sufficient experience required for the particular trip and are welcome to sign up. The trip message board is also available to anyone wishing to post a more spontaneous trip.

What are the key elements of a Common Adventure Trip
Common Adventure trips are not guided trips. There is no designated "leader" or "guide" who makes all the decisions for the group. Rather, leadership is fluid and group decisions are made democratically.
Every member of a Common Adventure group has responsibilities and contributes to the trip, whether by helping with trip planning, buying food, loading vehicles or cleaning up after it's over. No one goes for a free ride.
There are no guide fees. No group money goes to pay any one person among the group, nor does any money go to any outside individual or sponsoring institution or club. The cost of the trip is shared.
Common adventure groups strive for fairness, free and open discussion, and an equitable sharing of responsibilities.


Organizing an NSPN Common Adventure Trip

Posting of Trip. The NSPN member that develops a trip idea will post on the NSPN trips forum. He or she may also post it to the NSPN calendar.
Trip Initiator. The person who posts the event is known in Common Adventure vernacular as the "trip initiator." He is not the trip leader. Since leadership on a Common Adventure is a fluid affair, involving participation from all members of the group, there is no such thing as a designated "trip leader."

Sign-ups. Once the trip is posted, people who are interested in the trip can sign-up by contacting the trip initiator by following the instructions on the posting.

Pre-trip Meeting and or Beach Briefing. The next step in the process is the pre-trip meeting. The pre-trip meeting is a key part of organizing a Common Adventure trip. Up to this point, the trip has been the trip initiator's idea. At the pre-trip meeting, it becomes a cooperative group project. Everyone who is interested gathers together and all aspects of the trip are discussed. Since the trip is now in the group's hands, decisions about the trip are made as a group. The group may decide to make some changes in the trip: where they go and what they plan to do. The meeting gives everyone a chance to find out exactly what the trip is all about. Some individuals may decide that after learning the details, the trip is not what they want to do and they can drop out. For those who decide to go on the trip, the meeting gives them a chance to be properly prepared and to learn what clothing, equipment, etc. they need. Also, what skill level is expected for the trip.

Trip Leadership. While on a Common Adventure trip, leadership is a fluid process. If someone knows the area, he assumes a leadership role, helping the group find their way. If there's an accident on the trip and someone has good first aid skills, they assume leadership. If a kayaker capsizes, another person may take over. Major decisions are made democratically as a group, with weight given to those with specialized knowledge. Often it is the trip initiator that guides the democratic process. In this process, everyone is able to express their opinions and shed light on the decision. By involving everyone, the group is able to tap all of its resources, making it far stronger than if one person tries to make all of the decisions.

Trip Safety. Because everyone's opinion is important and because everyone is working for the common good of the group, trips are safer. Among their responsibilities, members of Common Adventure groups keep an eye out for one another. Because of the open, democratic environment, they are less apt to hold back when they see potential problems. This participatory form of safety is highly effective, certainly more effective than if only person is in charge of keeping track of the group.

Learning on the Trip. Common Adventure trips create an ideal environment for experiential learning. There are, of course, no designated teachers, but those on the trip with more experience can share their knowledge and skills with others with less experience.
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#2 Warren

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:16 PM

Doug,

Facinating topic. I suspect it will receive many comments.

As you know, last season was my first time kayaking. I participated in my first CAM trip on May 5 2011. It was a great learning experience for me. It did help me realize that I needed more paddling skills, so I began the BCU and ACA structured programs. It also taught me that the CAM model by design tends to have trip leaders and participants with varying degrees of skill and that requires each participant to have a high degree of self responsibility. That variation within the group further taught me the need for seamanship skills and solid decision making skills. I discovered the need for solo trips and trips where I would be one of the senior members in order to force the skills to be embedded in my actions. So during the June, July and August period, I needed to step back from the CAM model until I felt ready to return. By September I had the basic skill structure in place and enjoyed several CAM trips in September/October and hope to enjoy many more in 2012.

In essence, CAM can help a beginner move into the novice and intermediate levels quickly, if they do not mind the unpredictable nature of the design. However, it is clearly not for everyone!

Warren
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#3 GCosloy

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:56 PM

I don't think there is anything wrong with the CAM model. As a bonus it motivated the board to produce some excellent CAM training led by some of our more skilled membership these two last seasons. I do think there is plenty of planned trips that take place; they just sometimes don't get posted to the NSPN trips board. Why this is so I can only speculate. Some of our membership have their own "membership lists" that they frequently email when planning a trip. Part of this stems from the fear that an adventurous paddle might unwittingly attract an unqualified paddler that would create a safety issue for others. Part of it is just the comradeship of friends paddling together. I have bemoaned the fact (in print) that some of our advanced members don't post trips and thereby deny the rest of us their excellent company and experience on a paddle. One member who I asked responded: "Why do I want to add to my responsibility for someone who's skill level is unknown to me? And so it goes! I think we're doing pretty good. As long as members post the level numbers we should avoid some of these problems. I noticed recently that a few members have done just this in anticipation of the coming season. I think more should be doing this and perhaps with the caveat: " If the post defines a level higher than your presumed level of skill, please don't plan on joining this trip." JMHO
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#4 Bobmas

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:31 PM

Doug,

Facinating topic. I suspect it will receive many comments.

As you know, last season was my first time kayaking. I participated in my first CAM trip on May 5 2011. It was a great learning experience for me. It did help me realize that I needed more paddling skills, so I began the BCU and ACA structured programs. It also taught me that the CAM model by design tends to have trip leaders and participants with varying degrees of skill and that requires each participant to have a high degree of self responsibility. That variation within the group further taught me the need for seamanship skills and solid decision making skills. I discovered the need for solo trips and trips where I would be one of the senior members in order to force the skills to be embedded in my actions. So during the June, July and August period, I needed to step back from the CAM model until I felt ready to return. By September I had the basic skill structure in place and enjoyed several CAM trips in September/October and hope to enjoy many more in 2012.

In essence, CAM can help a beginner move into the novice and intermediate levels quickly, if they do not mind the unpredictable nature of the design. However, it is clearly not for everyone!

Warren



#5 pinkpaddler

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:16 AM

Thank you Doug for inviting the group to actively think about its basic premise – always a good exercise. I will add my perspective as a new member and someone new to sea kayaking.

My husband and I joined last April when I heard about the group because we felt it would be a great source of information, inspiration and paddling opportunities for us. Perusing the forums, we were pleased to see so many knowledgeable people eager to share their knowledge with others of all abilities. It was heartening to experience that in person when we attended the CAM session early last year. However, as that was our first introduction to CAM in action, for me personally (less so, my husband Robert), it was a bit off-putting in that I learned I wasn’t really ready yet to join a group for an ocean paddle. At the time, we still didn’t have all of the equipment we needed, still needed to work on endurance and navigation and couldn’t yet roll. I think we were solid quiet water paddlers with rescue skills, but in no way ready to bear our responsibilities in a CAM trip of even a level 2.
For that reason, we did not participate in any other outings last season except the Cold Water session in late fall. Most trips posted looked too long or at L3, so we felt we could not participate safely. We set our selves towards gaining endurance by paddling the local rivers we know so well, getting out on short coastal trips to areas we felt we could handle and eagerly awaited the pool sessions this winter so we could get those rolls down (which we both did – me just this past Saturday – sans paddle float!!). We’re gearing up and now feel ready to join, tentatively, L2 and maybe easy L3 trips in areas we are familiar with. I just hope some L2 trips are posted, as there seems to be a dearth of those, which I understand.
My husband and I have talked recently about building up paddling endurance and thought of posting our own trips for L1 and L2 levels for others to join us for just that reason. However, I am very nervous about doing that as here’s how I picture it: getting to the beach and finding beginners who don’t have enough equipment or experience and after discussion, if they don’t bow out, then we would have to decide not to paddle with them or greatly modify the outing. We are in no way ready to be leaders in the traditional sense with full responsibility. We are ready to take a leadership role by joining a group, participating actively, adding our knowledge to the collective and stepping up when needed that day. So yes, I understand when folks don’t post CAM trips as they don’t want ‘me’ showing up and having to take some measure of responsibility for me.

As for the designated Leader model, for me personally, I’m not sure it makes much sense. Even then, each person should be equipped, familiarized with the day’s events and ready to take on a leadership role – like a modified CAM with a de facto leader.

In summary, we wholeheartedly believe in the CAM model. As much as we were dedicated to kayaking properly and safely, the CAM model was a further push to ensure that we truly do so. We hope to participate more this season in the group in CAM trips and someday be able to teach others as much as we have learned even in this short time.

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#6 Pintail

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 03:52 PM

Doug, I am going to think about your post a bit more (I shall <ruminate> on the subject, in fact!) before I post objectively; but I do <suspect> that this CAM business may be off-putting to the newer and less experienced paddlers who might have joined our organization during the past couple of years.

On the other hand, like everything in life, familiarity breeds contempt (or something like that) and even when we were posting trips led by suitable-qualified "trip leaders" (qualified here in the club, through specific and thorough training classes, both on-water and -off), there was always the need to chivvy-up leaders to post more trips, once the novelty had worn off or in subsequent seasons...

I think that newer paddlers <do> look for some sort of nurturing leadership, which Bob Burnett (in his day) offered -- in spades! Does our new system provide as much nurturing, then? I shall sleep on it for a while further...

#7 alcoons

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:09 PM

Doug,

Thanks for asking.

I think the previous responses reflect the point I have been making for quite a while. L3/L4 trips work well as a CAM. However, many beginner L2 paddlers do not have enough experience in the ocean to be able to decide what they can handle. Many are just starting, have not experienced waves, wind, and have no way to know of their endurance level. So, to keep it brief, I love the CAM for L3/L4. However, I think it is not appropriate for the inexperienced L2 paddlers. To grow the club, we need to provide safe, well-led experiences for these paddlers. They need to feel confident that those taking them out have a level of knowledge and expertise so they can feel comfortable. Imagine CAM on a rock climb/course/face! The ocean is closer to that at times than paddling on a warm lake.

How we revive this method of "leadership" is not clear. We need to again have an L2 to the ocean program that worked so well in the past. It may start with the New to Sea Kayaking Workshop for some. Lake sessions. Then, L2 to the ocean trips that do need formal leadership.

Al

PS. I should note that there is a group of experienced L2 paddlers and my guess is CAM works for them also.
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#8 EEL

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 07:34 PM

Doug:

I suppose there could be an involved discussion about where CAM came from, its roots, etc. how it compares to this or that. I suppose we could have involved discussions about how other clubs operate and the why and hows of ACA and BCU training. However, I'm not sure the issues I believe you raised are all that CAM specific. Since I haven't been on a NSPN trip for awhile the following may well be the ramblings of some out of it outlier, but here are my thoughts.

Is one purpose of NSPN to provide opportunities for those entering the sport to become knowledgable participants through mentoring/training?
If so, does that mean paddles which are planned reasonably in advance, are described well, and which are welcoming in terms of allowing people to expand their horizons which means their getting beyond their comfort level and neither they nor the trip planner getting hung up in whether someone is a L 2 or 3 or whatever paddler...whatever those mean?
If so, does it mean paddles where the better paddlers particpate to show/mentor/keep a watchful eye on those just starting out? And does that in turn mean those better paddlers will need to make a sacrifice of their limited water time for the good of the club and its members?

My perception, which may well be wrong, over the past few years the trend has been for the trips posted to be mostly similar to last minute pick up games and the locations/venues/types of paddles have become more constricted. This would not seem to be conducive to providing new paddlers with the means of progressing to the extent they choose to do so. I don't think this has anything to do with CAM other than the shift to CAM seems to have largely eliminated what I would call "club paddles".

It is to be expected, I believe, for many if not most paddlers, to go on paddles they like with their "mates" who have similar interests and to enlarge their circle of "mates" as new folks come along with whom they like to paddle.. Still, for the continuity of the club, some effort should be made to mentor others on club paddles. So perhaps an increase in "club paddles" and the participation by the better paddlers on such pclub paddles would be good and no need to be too introspective about CAM and trip levels and all that stuff.

Not sure this addressed your question. Just some personal observations from the hinderland.


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#9 Warren

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:38 AM

Al,

I believe you have hit the nail on the head with the question, "Is it the goal of NSPN to grow the membership of the club?" If so, we do need many inexperienced L2 paddlers who are working their way to become L3/L4 paddlers. To achieve that goal mentoring is critical. However, the beginners must do the heavy lifting during the knowledge transfer and understand they will need to work outside their comfort zone to grow. I believe the problem for many beginners is that they do not know what they don't know.

NSPN already has in place the on-water CAM workshops which are superb! However, the L2 paddlers may not understand the value those sessions provide. When I attended one last year, I saw more L3/L4 paddlers than L2 paddlers in attendence. If we reach out to the L2 paddlers, perhaps they will attend in greater numbers.

Warren


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#10 rick stoehrer

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:40 AM

Al,

I believe you have hit the nail on the head with the question, "Is it the goal of NSPN to grow the membership of the club?" If so, we do need many inexperienced L2 paddlers who are working their way to become L3/L4 paddlers. To achieve that goal mentoring is critical. However, the beginners must do the heavy lifting during the knowledge transfer and understand they will need to work outside their comfort zone to grow. I believe the problem for many beginners is that they do not know what they don't know.

NSPN already has in place the on-water CAM workshops which are superb! However, the L2 paddlers may not understand the value those sessions provide. When I attended one last year, I saw more L3/L4 paddlers than L2 paddlers in attendence. If we reach out to the L2 paddlers, perhaps they will attend in greater numbers.

Warren


advancing L2's into L3's and beyond is a separate issue i think from the cam discussion...not all cam's will have that aim. so as to not to hijack the thread, i will start a separate conversation regarding that topic.
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#11 overhill

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 10:00 PM

Folks,
As a person that started paddling when common sense was the preliminary requirement for safely participating any sport and who is a loner by nature, I will never become actively involved in club paddling activities. Just the same it is very good to know that You with so much knowledge and guidance to offer are attempting to get more of the less focused involved in the club. It saddens me to report that several paddlers I've spoken to interpret the NSPN acronym as shorthand for "no sense paddling now"! With the thousands of new participants in kayaking arriving each year there is a crying need for You to find a way to give some a safe start. Good luck in your efforts.
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