I always thought the symposium would be a great place to connect with paddlers from the area which is one of the things I hoped to do with this trip. For anybody that has never attended an event like this I highly recommend it. Aside from the great instruction you can get, the opportunity to meet and network with paddlers from all around the country is amazing. I've attended and worked at many symposiums over the last several years and each one has been a great time. The coaches and schedule have been sorted out I'm slated to share my slide show with folks Friday night. Beyond that I'm here to be plugged into whatever hole needs to be filled. After helping Jen Kleck run the Southwest Kayak Symposium out in San Diego for the last couple years I know how every bit of help you can find is appreciated.
For someone working (or volunteering) on the inside, the intensity around one of these events can be compared to a wedding. The organizer(s) are like the bride and groom putting on the show, they’re the center of attention but not the only reason people have come. The coaches are like the wedding party, they’re here to support the organizers and do a job to make sure the task at hand is accomplished. They’re here mainly for the big show of course but also (because they’re normally good friends) they help a lot with the final set up and execution of the event. The students are like the wedding guests, they are what the whole event is about. The fact that so many are good friends of the event organizers it really does seem like a wedding when everyone arrives and things get rolling. Not being on the actual coach roster and also not being a guest, I guess you could compare my role this time to the busy-body cousin that’s just there to help out… and get free beer at the reception.
Anybody that has put on a big wedding can appreciate the amount of work that goes into something like this. A date must be chosen, a venue found, coaches selected, plane tickets purchased, invitations sent out (advertising), you have to help people find places to stay, people must be fed before during and after the event… you get the idea. Financially the event is usually barely a break even affair for the organizer, and you could wonder if it’s worth all the stress and work. However, the fact that it is so much fun to see everyone year after year and provide a venue for students and coaches to interact makes it all worthwhile. I for one, can’t wait to get back to San Diego at the end of March to help out with the Southwest Kayak Symposium once again. It’s going to be great to see all my friends out west all in one place for what is always a fun weekend.