Butts in boats

Posted by Ken Campbell April 12, 2011 0 Comment 1023 views

I am not sure about symposiums. Or expo’s, festivals, or whatever the kids are calling them these days. I like them, I really do, but I don’t know whether they are still as relevant to the paddle sports world as they once were.
It used to be that if you wanted to hear about so-and-so’s paddle to the arctic or to the south island of New Zealand, you had to go to a presentation by the adventurer in question, and symposiums always featured a full slate of such talks and slide shows. Likewise, if you had a desire to try a few classes, say a forward stroke clinic and a rolling demonstration, a symposium (expo, festival, whatever), was the best place to get that too.
But now, with every expedition boasting a thick and informative web site and YouTube how-to videos just a click away, there are less compelling reasons for going to a symposium at all. And it shows. Attendance dropped steadily at both the Port Townsend and Tacoma symposiums before the plug was pulled on each of them a few years back. People are getting used to sitting at home, it seems, and having the information come to them.
There really is no substitute, however, for getting together with other paddlers, professional industry-types and novices, hard-core paddling freaks and curious onlookers. It not only reminds me of all there is out there that I have left to experience, it puts me in direct contact with people who know things I want to know and who are doing things that I want to do for myself. Done right, a symposium can be informative and motivating, and I can’t help but like the experience.
With all that said, there are three on-water events in the near future up here in our corner of the country. The Port Angeles Symposium has been an April staple for the past decade on the beach by the Red Lion, in downtown PA. The NW Adventure Sports Expo is in its second year in Port Gamble, and the new kid on the block is the NW Paddling Festival, scheduled for West Seattle at the end of June. (Info on all can be found on the sidebar, page right.)
I’m going to all of them. It’s what I do. A slide show here, a SUP demonstration there, maybe even sell a book or two. I hope they are well attended and the sun shines brightly. If you see me, say hello.

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