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October 21, 2006

In 2003 Zoar Outdoor hosted the 1st annual “Whitewater Symposium” in Massachusetts. I have participated in the symposium each year, with the last one happening in Coloma, CA last week. The scope and purpose of the symposium is becoming more clear each year, providing the general public, instructors, dealers, schools, clubs, and manufacturers with more value and meaningful information each year. In the past it was primarily an instructional symposium and while it was designed to share ideas between different schools and instructors, it became more of a debate of well known instructors, each pitted against each other for the “best methods”. This year was a more cooperative effort allowing the personalities to all provide value to the event without creating a competitive environment. This year the symposium became more of a “let’s look at who’s driving the industry and see if perhaps we should take more of a role in the direction it is going. Who is driving? This was the question raised. Some said the customer, some said the manufacturers, some said the schools and some said, it was a mix. Certainly it is a combination of grass roots, manufacturers efforts, and on a more regional level, local shops, clubs, organizers, and schools. Largely it is developing with no major initiatives and that was a major topic of conversation. The fun part of the symposium is that there was something for everyone. The presenters in 2006 were a combination of instructors, long time industry participants at many levels, as well as business advisors and athletes.

This year we had Jamie McEwan (72 and 92 Olympian), Kent Ford, Bruce Lessels, Joe Jacobi, Mary Dereimer, Dan Crandall, and myself holding down the “old athlete” fort. Kent, Bruce, Joe, and Jamie were all C1 and C2 athletes, which gave them an interesting perspective. Manufacturers don’t even make a C1 in plastic anymore. Bob Campbell was an assistant coach for slalom in world championship and Olympic events was there, and Dan Crandall has represented the USA West Team for surf kayaking since the 80’s. There was little representation from the current top tier athletes other than myself, Joe, and Dan who still compete at the top levels, but we are all older compared to the normal cross-section of athletes.

Other presenters were safety and rescue presenters: Julie Munger and Mike Mather did a great job of teaching and having fun with those who participated in their presentations.
Risa Shimoda did a presentation on whitewater parks, while Ron Hilbert gave the key note speech after a nice dinner at the Sierra Nevada House on internet stuff we should all use.

I did on the water presentations and classes on “Teaching Strokes and Concepts” , “Intermediate Playboating”, and did class room presentations on developing a kids program for your school or camp, and also participated in all of the major panel discussions.

Look for a newsletter that should be worth getting, that will come out every 2 months and start in December. Keep your eyes on for more infor.

Next Year’s symposium location is YTD.

🙂 EJ