2023 State of the Saint address

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    • #21090
      Dan Prater
      • Total Posts: 61

      State of the Saint

      In the spirit of competition I layed low during the election, I kept it as simple as possible and wanted to win on merit. Now back to my regularly scheduled transparent communication practice 😉

      I didn’t post a sales pitch, try to defame my competition, or try any backdoor campaigns or membership drives. Everyone that comes to the river knows what im about, and how consistently I am about it. If you don’t yet know me – I’m the loud one that likes going boating. I like paddling with new folks (not just for the free rescue practice), and my stoke comes from seeing someone try hard and ‘get it.’ I’m passionate about rivers, and sharing river knowledge.

      Thank you all for the vote of confidence, I will do my best!

      The Missouri Whitewater community is alive and thriving. You’ll see that at the river any day. The Missouri Whitewater Association is stagnant and dying. Going thru the motions and repeating the same ol. This club hasn’t tried anything new since plastic boats, and they will proudly tell you that. Stick with what works is not the best motus operandi, it stifles growth and suppresses involvement. I aim to build upon our past and make improvement anywhere we can.

      Ever feel like you’re here to serve the MWA not the other way around? “It’s not what can the MWA do for you, but what you can do for the MWA,” is a common saying with tenured members. Service is vital, and is for sure the lifeblood of any volunteer organization- but I think the MWA should give you something back besides the warm fuzzy feeling of donating your time and labor.

      I know so many regular boaters that aren’t club members; because there’s been no incentive to pay membership. We paddle the river for free, and volunteer for MWA, so why pay your job to work there? My plan is to flip that script. I believe this will encourage more involvement, and increase pride in being part of the Missouri Whitewater community.

      I think one good way for the MWA to give back to the people is the club should buy a raft. Any club member will be able borrow it to take your family or friends down the river. Share the stoke and get your people involved without the hurdles of learning to drive their own craft and accumulate the gear. We’ve got a line on some duckies also that are free but need repair.

      I also think the club should offer a discounted member rate, or scholarship for 1 seat for any training classes not covered by the reimbursement program.

      I would like to find a way to establish a gear box/ lost and found at the river. Forgot your skirt or helmet? Grab one out of the beater box instead of going home. Ive got spare gear to donate, I bet many of you do as well. If this sounds like something you’d like to help facilitate, please reach out.

      I’d like to see more focus on history of the club, and the pioneers of whitewater we have on staff. Repost old newsletters even, and more sharing of trip reports by the current traveling circus. I think it would be a super cool perspective if an Intermediate paddler could interview some of the old school paddlers about their legendary campfire stories of adventures past- if this sounds like you please reach out.

      Brian Burke has volunteered to revive the newsletter, Sally Haywood is all about skill building, Jeff Clawges is all about cleaning up the river. We need more members to follow these examples of selfless service and help with any cause they’re passionate about. If you don’t have any new ideas, I guarantee your help would be appreciated with existing causes! Reach out to these pillars of the MWA community and help out, or train to be the next person to take over the cause.

      The clinic is the biggest fundraiser for the club. Maybe one giant event to cram as many people thru the door is profitable, but isn’t the best way to grow the sport. Most new boaters that stick around to become regulars are ones that have friends that paddle, or are adopted by a mentor- not come ups from clinic. Id like to put some structure behind mentorship and make it more accessible to anyone. I think a series of clinics on a smaller scale, along with a more open and structured mentorship program would be more beneficial and result in better retention. More focus on working with STL Canoe and Kayak Club for moving water skills, and copy/paste events like the JoeSartori school of moving water paddling in different regions. Sally is doing fabulous coordinating training and Jojo successfully herds all the turtles for clinic, but new ideas take people to make them happen.

      Same with everything, we need YOUR volunteer hours to make things happen. We rely too heavily, on ţoo few people, to do too much. That isn’t sustainable. Everyone has room to step up, and this is your call to action…. many hands make light work!

      For many years, the board had been entirely volunteers because no one wanted to do it. Those folks have kept it alive, but only by repeating the same formula. It’s a bunch to keep going, so all the workaholics that have volunteered to get it done and keep it going have been the clubs life support. It would’ve been dead long ago if not for them, but it has also created a culture that’s a never ending groundhogs day/ repeat till dead then do it again.

      The current board is fresh, active, and very motivated to make improvements/blaze new trails. We are also VERY receptive of input so let’s hear it!

      Anything is possible… and NOW is the time. These are just my ideas, now let’s discuss yours. Join us for our next meeting and let’s make it happen!

    • #21091
      Willow Ellis
      • Preferred Boat: Kayak
      • Years Paddling: 5
      • Total Posts: 5


      Love the idea of a raft and duckies. More than willing to put in some additional time to help repair those duckies and offer some storage if needed.

      I have some spare gear to throw in the beater box.

      I’d also love to help coordinate an additional smaller scale clinics for those needing additional instructor opportunities. I even might have some MWA contacts for coordinating events the Springfield, MO region. We would need an instructor for those events, though.

      Can’t wait to see MWA thrive!

    • #21097
      Sally Haywood
      • Total Posts: 27

      Great that there’s enthusiasm for new efforts.
      Can we please proceed without disparaging anyone’s volunteer efforts, current or past? Can we keep it positive (or say nothing)?

      Hope, as the new MWA board considers ways to invest MWA club resources, they’ll be guided by the club’s mission,
      https://missouriwhitewater.org/about/ “The Missouri Whitewater Association is a public organization which exists to encourage the growth of paddling as a beneficial recreational sport and a recognized competitive sport, to teach paddling skills, river safety techniques, first aid, and outfitting, to sponsor river trips and other outdoor activities, and to educate club members and the general public about the sport and about river conservation.”

      I don’t see how the acquisition of expensive boats sufficiently advances the mission to merit the investment. If folks want to donate more boats, great. OR partner with retailers to allow people to try out boats (e.g. like NOC rents gear).

      I and many others are passionate about creating more training opportunities.
      Years ago we had tried to advance a mentorship initiative for MWA members to partner with new Team River Runner veteran boaters.
      Eager to be a part of considering new training options.

      • #21130
        John Foster
        • Total Posts: 24

        Thank you Sally!

    • #21100
      Dan Prater
      • Total Posts: 61


      Yes we can, and I intended on leaving it be after that post. Because truly, I’m about more boating and less of the bs that’s become status quo.

      You might feel differently if someone was so vocal and publicly slandering you in personal attacks and profane tirades- like happened to me during elections. Or for the past decade I’ve been around for that matter, as he has. Not to mention election meddling, rule bending to suit a personal agenda, and abusing access to people’s personal info (email addresses) to send out one sided campaign propaganda.

      Also the second half of my post commends past volunteer’s efforts, not just highlighting problems that need fixing or things i think we can do better.

      Can’t please everyone, but I’ll do my best to please the majority and continue to do what’s right to the best of my ability.

      As far as the club making purchases that benefit members… its part of MY mission statement that MWA is here to serve the members and advance the sport of whitewater paddling in Missouri, instead of members are here soley for the benefit of serving MWA. We can’t expect people to give everything and get nothing except solicitations to give more. I believe investing in our members will benefit the club much more than the standard begging for members to invest in the club.

      I understand that’s a change from normal, and change makes some people uncomfortable.

      That being said…If a donor would like to donate a raft, paddles, pump, kayaks gear etc etc etc that would be amazing.

      Anything purchased by the club is club property, for use by club members. If the next elected administration of MWA sees it differently, it will be theirs to sell and re-appropriate those funds as they see fit.

      Thanks for your input and all the work you put in. While I might disagree somewhat, I do value your opinion and your service to the club,past and future.

    • #21107
      • Total Posts: 350

      Hello President Dan Prater,
      Good job setting out goals and ideas for the growth of the MWA.
      You have a few good ideas that could be developed.
      In terms of member benefits, the picnic used to be a reward for paying MWA dues.
      The club would pay for meat and drinks,(kids & adult beverages)-
      the rest of the meal was a large pot-luck dinner.

      In terms of club gear, storage will be a HUGE deal.
      Somebody will have to store it, check it in & out, clean and repair as needed.
      That sounds like a lot of work for somebody that might not even get to use the gear.
      -plus the logistics of being able to meet with who ever may need to use it.

      In terms of the “beater box”, some of he same issues would apply.
      I have some gear that could be put in for emergency use.
      If the campground is open, they may be willing to help with the storage.
      there is also the issue–
      “hey, this loaner gear is better than what I left at home, I might have to keep it.”

      In terms of ‘scholarships’ for training events,-great idea- how do I apply?
      in terms of the newsletter-digital- the old timers have the Greatest stories.
      (you will be a more respected President, if you could provide consistent water for the Saint)

      • #21115
        Dan Prater
        • Total Posts: 61


        I agree about logistics of community boat will be a bit of a hassle. Im hoping someone will volunteer to be the caretaker of club boat and deal with associated logistics that come with it ‘for the greater good’
        Overall members successfully shuffle boats around very regularly, but its happening on text message and fb so you’re not seeing it back there in the 1900s lol 😉

        If no one wants to be a caretaker, we are already paying for storage units in fredricktown. Somebody will step up I think. Having a standard operating procedure for the whole process will hopefully minimize required effort by the caretaker.

        I learned from Mr Matsuno that in the past MWA did have a club raft for members to borrow- so this isn’t even a new idea, it’s already been done successfully. I think the reward for the community is worth the hassle.

        I envision the beater box as a large metal lockable cage like we use on jobsites to secure tools/ material. This will also help facilitate drying of the gear so its not a moldy trunk of neoprene after people return it on their way home. I look at it as anything I donate to the box is gone forever, I’m not looking for it back. Since only members will have access, Im banking on the community doing the right thing as far as returning stuff. Also putting large bold paint or marker on everything will make it less likely for things to walk off. Make it big and bold, I don’t think anyone would be motivated enough to take for use elsewhere. For example -a pfd that says MWA club property/ I’m a beater or whatever if it’s smeared with ugly paint. That’s why Mary writes your name in your underwear, so nobody wants to steal it, and your skidmarks are extra insurance 🙂

        I’m hoping the forest service will allow the cage to sit with the hosts, and we move it out when the host leaves for the off-season. Hopefully it gets moved to somewhere close by the river and is still usable, if not then no box for those couple months. I also don’t think the camp hosts need to be involved in checking things in/out, only members have the combination and if it turns out people don’t do the right thing then no more box. That way it’s self sustaining or self terminating. Like one of those little free library or food pantry mailbox kinda. The only host involvement would be adding lost and found items they are already getting.

        As far as dependable water on the saint, I’m still working on capturing and training a colony of beavers to build a dam at roselle that will flood VicePrez Devins property but allow for recreational releases. Catching them is going well but the training is not. Im open to suggestions on beaver taming but I know you don’t have any 😉 lollol

        I’m loving this discussion. Everything is just ideas so far. We can do the brainstorming here as an ongoing conversation for club business and discuss implementation at the meetings.

        Check the forecast, I’m hoping to see your pretty face SOON 😍

    • #21114
      Kathleen Pszonka
      • Total Posts: 113

      MWA has offered 2 scholarships per year to the clinic for anyone in TRR interested. I’d like to see that continue . I really like the reimbursement program we have to help reimburse for expensive ACA classes, providing that participant teaches or serves as a safety boater. I think a fleet of cheap/free duckys would be great if there is storage and a procedure for checking them out. Some of the boats used in the classes At Melville HS are pretty beat up, and maybe better used ones could be obtained. But must be left in pool or have some way of guaranteeing their return if taken out of the pool. TRR lost boats that way . I would like to see better cooperation with St Louis Canoe Kayak Club. So many of our current and past members came from SLCKC. ( I’m the main recruiter ). A few have MWA members have paddled with SLCKC. I always recommend that newbees don’t wait for the day of the clinic for their first paddle, as you never know what conditions it will be that day. I suggest they get on the water , asking for support of MWA members on a good water, weather day , if they have the chance. Many of us have been open to helping others do an informal mini clinic , prior to our official clinic . Our picnic this year was a lot of fun, following the guidelines Jerry mentioned. We had too much food, but it was shared by all who wanted it. I really enjoy being a member of MWA and $15 is a small price to pay. So many new energetic paddlers have joined last few years, largely because of the pool classes offered. This is a very positive direction. Kathy Pszonka

      • #21116
        Dan Prater
        • Total Posts: 61

        Thanks Kathy.

        I agree with all that.
        I’m open to any ideas you have to encourage more involvement between the clubs and see all cross involvement as beneficial to all of us.

        Mini clinics and more structured/ open mentorship are gonna be a big push, I’ll elaborate on my ideas later when I’ve got a bit more time

    • #21129
      John Foster
      • Total Posts: 24

      Just remember Kathy, the pool class boats do not belong to the MWA, have have been made available to students for the clinic.
      Would love to see the MWA help purchase new used boats sometime.
      While not the only feeder of new members to the MWA, the classes have been a big one over the years.

    • #21131
      Linda Konkel
      • Preferred Boat: Kayak
      • Years Paddling: 4
      • Total Posts: 1

      Mentorship was very helpful for me to continue paddling after the clinic. However this is not a cheap sport to decide if it’s something you’re to invest in.

      I have hoped/ desired to establish a rental program for newbie to get a better taste of boating economically. Like John Foster has pointed out the boats at the Mehlville aren’t own by the MWA. So as much as I desire this program I’m fined it hard to navigate.

      This is a great group of people, and I enjoy and learn something every time I paddle with members. I would love to be able to expand that opportunity to more.

      I am open to suggestions on how to implement a program to get boats to people.

    • #21132
      John Foster
      • Total Posts: 24

      I like your idea, but would worry about liability if we start renting.
      I would not want to rent to a complete unknown, however boats can usually be found fir people who have taken the class.

    • #21179
      • Total Posts: 56

      Could there be a lifetime membership option like American Whitewater has?

      I was happy to give them $500 and never think about it again.


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