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For the last year, I had the great privilege to be co-president for NSPN. In looking back, Lisa and I had just fastened our seat belts in preparation for takeoff when the webmaster Mike Sabin sent us an e-mail that he had to move on with his life. Mike had performed like a saint with the untold hours he struggled with a board that, before him, Chris Perkins built, and it had just grown past anybody’s wildest expectations. We, in late January, held an all-day board meeting developing goals for the club and expanding the committees and responsibilities to a much greater part of the membership.

We formed a Web Committee, recruiting members from all sectors of the club, each with a part of the workload and Lisa as Chair. As we discussed content, we discovered some disturbing things about our outward appearance. To the outside, we were perceived as a club of hard-line military-minded trip leaders. Wow! None of us had that feeling, but sometimes perception is fact, and we started working with the board and other committees to change wording and descriptions to more correctly reflect our fun, safe and responsible kayaking experiences.

We discovered we had created (we being the past boards) a network that allowed several people to write checks, many more to deposit them, and it was driving the treasurer and the board nuts. We developed an accounting process and a set of checks and balances. This process has taken a year and now we are on the brink of having a treasurer and software package that will allow fast and efficient control of your finances.

The major goals were to increase membership, and promote safe, responsible and fun kayaking experiences. To accomplish these goals, we formed a trip planning committee and added an additional member to the membership committee. We also formed a process where when you send in your renewal or original application for membership, Cathy Foley sends you an e-mail welcoming you to the club, offering assistance on who to see or talk to about club activities and any general information. This accomplished two things. We could easily check on membership status at pool sessions as the ACA takes a while to process the membership and return it to the member. It also gave first-time members a contact to ask questions and get direction at the beginning of their NSPN experience. This has been a huge assist for the officers and trip leaders also.

The Trip Leader Training Committee had offered to increase its role and add to its scope acting as a clearing house for the coordination of workshops--a huge undertaking--and to also open trip leader training to members who wanted to increase a skill or two but still didn’t want to lead a formal trip. That process has started and, as Scott and Rick and the rest of the committee can tell you, it’s a slow and difficult process.

In summary we had a great year, had over 60 trips on the calendar, many workshops and a new crew of leaders. We had a few very sad issues but, as you grow, that is part of the process.

At the first board meeting of 2004 we spent a couple of hours going around the table giving air to the issues of the day and the direction the board members want for the future. I love NSPN for what it has become and can do--it’s a place to meet, paddle and play. I do not like long, insufferable meetings. I don’t see a need for a social club--there are many already. The winds of change are blowing away from my goals and views of the club. The feelings we should be exclusive, not lead trips, not offer professional instructors from around the world (at a savings to club members) are foreign to me. We have built a strong following as we are always ready and willing to help, aid and assist each other. I have built what I feel are strong, long-lasting personal relationships with so many of you paddlers, it would be a hard job to recite the list. You all should know I have had a wonderful year in retrospect and am proud I can say we grew, were more inclusive and are in a strong financial position to move forward. Thank you for a great year and I wish my fellow officers fair winds and sunny days. I have resigned as co-president.

Jim B

Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something

new. Remember that amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the


P & H Orion

Yellow over White


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It's a sad day when I see someone who has worked so hard at trying to do his best for our club depart due to crappy politics. Jim is one of my closest friends within NSPN and a former student. Since my departure in 2001, I've spent hours on the phone with Jim discussing club happenings and goings on. Some of you think Jim was a hard ass in his execution of his position. As much as it kills me to see how complicated it's become, it's still our club; it just happens to be a business that needs to be run properly. In most cases, he was just maintaining precident.

There were many things these days that are at issue with the BOD, most have unfortunately been inherited from the 1st BOD. How they meet, where they meet, how elections were executed and how often Board members held their positions were all thanks to the first two generations of the Board. This Board unfortunately is just following precident.

Sure, change is good, but not at the expense of our friends. I have many friends on both sides of the political stand off and it doesn't make me happy to see them pitted against each other. As for what I can see from some of the recent posts, there isn't too many people responding to Bob Baldridge in regards to issues they are concerned with. Look, if all you do is piss and moan on our beloved message baord and don't follow up with action, you're no better than the people(my friends)you're bitching about.

I've asked the board to try and get back to basics. I'd like to see the club take a break from all commercial offerings, and start spending the membership money for a scholarship fund as I had dreamed when we started the club.

You, the membership, is driving this change through your actions. Don't shoot your mouths off and when it's time to do some work, say it's someone elses problem. That's just wrong! You wanted this, now get off your asses and do something about it.

Just remember, the folks on the other side of the table are my friends, and yours.

Politics ruins everything!

Bob Burnett

Founder NSPN

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Jim stated that he is stepping down from the board but not leaving the club -- unless I am misreading. Again, Jim is to be thanked for his effort, as all previous board members and volunteers who have worked on behalf of this club. They have all contributed to the growth of the club. But whether we like it or not, growth always bring change. Organizations have to evolve with growth and new members. If it does not, it stays stagnant or slowly perishes.

There have been things aired and questioned on this bulletin board over the past year. Sometimes things get emotional. But I take the position that this is healthy, provided folks can work through it and get to another place together. What is not healthy for an organization is to not deal with emerging issues head on. Folks can sense when there are issues, or certainly feel that things can be a little different than they are.

Speaking for myself, I am entering my third year in the club. Were it not for the fact that I renewed my family membership for two years the last time, I probably would not have renewed for '04. Why is this? I thought about it bit (though it is not a pressing issue in my life) for the past year. It is not that I have any strong or bad feelings about the NSPN. It is because I don't feel particularly connected to it. Yes, there are people I have met through the club that I've paddle with and enjoyed their company. But I have also met and paddle with a lot of other folks (probably more) who are not members of NSPN that I have enjoyed being with. In thinking about the entity, NSPN, I realized I know very little about it, how things are decided, what it's priorities are despite what may be posted on the board, where it sees itself into the future, where I see myself fitting in it if at all.

If I were to let my membership expired, I would be the first to say it is no great tragedy. I do think it would be a tragedy to have "old friends" split over whatever is happening at this moment in NSPN. But, the thing, again, is that I have really no great knowledge of what those divisive things may be as a new member. Perhaps, you older members can get together over dinner and a beer and sort it out. It won't address, however, the fact that I (and maybe a few other newer members) still do not feeling particularly connected to NSPN. And, perhaps, this is not important at all.

As far as "giving back to the NSPN", I am not going to make claims of doing a lot on behalf of this club. I paddle and do my practices. I've run into folks who have asked for help on something. If I know it, I have offered to show or help with it. I always mention NSPN as a possible resource for them. I have also run into folks who have nothing to do with NSPN who are great resources to me when it comes to technical questions or skills development. So it begs the question, "What makes NSPN special?" I understand how NSPN can and would be special for the members who were with the group from the start and have seen and participated in it's growth. Truthfully, for me, I can't answer that question right now. I don't have the share history and I may not be around in creating the future history.

I plan on being at the Feb 7th meeting, FWIW. I hope it is a productive meeting and a healing one for whatever is splitting the longer term members (if indeed something devisive is occuring). I hope that I can find something to hook me into staying in NSPN and seeing something to be gained/given for being part of of this entity. But, I will be the first to say that no particular one individual is that valuable to any "healthy" organization, least of all me.


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First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Jim for everything he has done in just the past year, not to mention all of his previous contributions to the club. Jim, THANK YOU for a job well done in a thankless job. If the critics knew only half of the hard work he puts in, they may have a different view. My thanks also go out to the current and former board members for all their dedication and hard work.

As NSPN continues to grow, some change is inevitable. Some change is even good! Having served previously as President for two similar organizations, I know that NSPN can not be all things to all members. It is not possible to cater to each member individually. It is also not possible for NSPN to have 300 leaders. In the three years I have been a member, I feel very confident that the Board of Directors has acted in the best interest of the club and the majority of its members.

I would strongly encourage each member to attend the General Membership meeting on February 7th. If you have agenda items, there is a post on the board where you can submit them. The membership is what makes NSPN work. This club can be as good as the membership wants it to be. It would be great if every member pitched in and did something more than just participate in trips. In the meantime, I will say it again. MANY THANKS TO THE PRESENT AND PAST BOARD MEMBERS FOR THEIR DEDICATION AND TIME TO THE CLUB...YOU'VE DONE AN OUTSTANDING JOB IN MY OPINION.

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I am deeply troubled to hear of your sudden resignation as co- president of NSPN.

I'm sure it was a very thoughtful and difficult decision.

With few exceptions, my association with the club has been either on the water or at trip leader sessions. On numerous occasion when I have attempted to offer my suggestions, thoughts and service to assist, I was politely told; "we will not discuss that now", "we have enough", "we have no room", etc..

Is this possibly an example of "don't speak unless asked"?

Although I have been a member for just over 1 year and have a very strong feeling of obligation to do my share in repaying NSPN for making me a better paddler, I've experienced a very deep divide between the leadership (the in-group) and the general membership (paddlers).

Unfortunately, as an outsider who is not interested in elbowing into the inner circle, I do not have a clue regarding the politics or intended direction of the club. My experience is my reality.

Your last paragraph contained a particularly disturbing statement;

"The feelings we should be exclusive, not lead trips, not offer professional instructors from around the world (at a savings to club members) are foreign to me."


Not lead trips?

Not offer professional instructors from around the world?

I find it impossible to understand the reasoning for these profound changes.

IMHO this dramatic change in direction would completely unravel the basic foundation and purpose for our existence.

Improving my personal skills through professional instruction and helping others are the ONLY reasons that cause me to maintain my membership in NSPN!

Hopefully you will continue to voice your beliefs and help steer NSPN along a course that, promotes, educates and develops safe and proficient paddling.


Living to learn.

Romany White, Blue trim

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Thank you Jim, and all of the board members, for all that you have given of your time and energy to the club. No matter what the size, structure, or political makeup of the organization might be, it has been a wonderfully important part of my life for the past three years. And even with the current bru-ha-ha we still are getting together to practice at pool sessions, welcome new members, work together to outfit our boats, and wait for some paddle-able weather.

I hope that many of us can meet on February 7 to air our concerns, thoughts, and hopes for the future of NSPN. Life is all about growth and change and we are certainly doing that. I hope that we can do it with respect and compassion for all of our points of view.

Once again Jim, thank you for working so hard to help this club grow and I hope to see you out on the water soon.


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You've done a great job and I have a great deal of respect for you and what you've contributed to the club.

However, I have to take issue with the following statement:

"The feelings we should be exclusive, not lead trips, not offer professional instructors from around the world (at a savings to club members) are foreign to me."

I have spoken with a lot of people in the past few weeks and NO ONE has taken a position that we should be "exclusive". The club and its programs are open to anyone and I haven't heard any opinion that it should be otherwise. Unless I'm completely misunderstaning your meaning, I don't see where this is even an issue.

Likewise with leading trips. I haven't heard anyone suggest that we shouldn't lead trips. There has been some discussion about the way we run Level 4 trips and workshops, but that's based on safety concerns, which seems like a good thing to discuss. Trips are at the core of what the NSPN does and that's not likely to change.

While there are some members who question our sponsorship of "celebrity" paddlers and their clinics, due to concerns over competition with local outfitters, there are other ways to reduce any possible conflicts than to curtail such events. I simply cannot see that happening.

It's a shame that you have such a negative impression of what lies ahead for the NSPN. Personally, I'm excited about the future and expect the club to be stronger and just as much fun as ever. If you attend the upcoming membership meeting, I think you'll see that's the case.

Regardless, I truly hope that you'll be out there paddling with the club as you have been. It would certainly be our loss if you weren't.

See You On The Sea.


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I want to thank you for your time and significant contributions to the club especially over your past year as co-president. We've all benefited from your involvement. I'm glad it's not good bye.

Hope to paddle with you again.

Gary B.

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