I agree with Jeff Casey. This is deja vu all over again. As an "old fart" (but not charter member) of NSPN I am very grateful for all I learned from other members (pass it forward).
My second year of paddling, with very limited skills, on an NSPN trip was an education in "what I know now I wish I'd known then" but I probably would not have gone out with them had I known. There was a casual but thorough beach briefing mostly to get everyone focused on the route, expectations, and proper equipment. The was no discussion about level 123 etc. I felt welcomed and accepted as part of the group. On the last mile of our trip the conditions deteriorated and as a newbie I had not checked the weather or sea state. I take responsibility for myself and didn't expect "to be taken care of" but certainly felt comfort in the fact that there were more experienced paddlers with me. The head winds kicked up to probably 20-25 but for me seemed like a 100 mph with the rain horizontal and hurting if you looked up and what seemed like 3-5 wind chop. I paddled in survival mode for that mile but will never forget the encouraging words from fellow paddlers as we slowly made headway back to our put-in.
My point is that back then there didn't appear to be much emphasis on paddling level, liability, experience, etc. but just on paddling and having fun and meeting people. This is the "feeling" now exhibited with the Meet-Up Group and with SMSKN but not so much with NSPN. With both groups there are all level of paddlers on all trips.
I am forever grateful for the training and experience I gained through NSPN. I think NSPN does a superb job of offering workshops, promoting safe paddling, skills sessions, etc. Perhaps this is also it nemesis or apparent high level experience perception.
Maybe change is not needed. There are many clubs and Meet-Up type groups that offer paddling opportunities for all levels. Perhaps the training, workshops, skill sessions, etc that NSPN offers are what the club is all about. Nothing wrong with that.
Life's to short.....let's just paddle!