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 We are Maidstone Canoe Club

 We sea kayak.

 We race.

 We are Maidstone Canoe Club.

 We mess about in boats.

 We run rivers.

My first trip

My first trip

You've done the beginner course.  You've come out on the regular paddles and have built up some confidence in the boat.  Now you're thinking about venturing further afield, and want to come on a trip with Maidstone Canoe Club.  But what will it be like?

It's a fair enough question, and a common concern - particularly for newer members.  But as you've already found out as a Club member, we're a pretty friendly bunch, and there's plenty of support and help available if you need it.  Trips are always a mix of experienced paddlers, newer members, and people coming along for the first time - you won't be the only new face!  The format for each trip varies a little, and depends to some extent on who is organising it, but there are some common themes.  This page will hopefully give you some overview of how the trips work, but for a really good insight read through the various articles in our Newsletter Archive, where paddlers old and new tell it how it is!

Different trips, different people

P7110562 11706 600 450 80An advanced whitewater weekend is different to a beginner sea kayaking trip.  A large group is different to a smaller crowd.  Trips at Maidstone are organised by individual paddlers - paddlers like you - rather than planned centrally by the committee.  This means that if you fancy a trip somewhere - organise one!  (Feel free to contact us if you'd like some pointers and help with this).  This means that one person organising a trip will do things a little differently to the next.  Contact details for trip organisers are always on the Calendar events page, so just drop them a line if you're not sure how it's going to work.  The person organising the logistics of the trip may or may not be the leader on the water.  

The important thing is to choose the right trip for your first outing - so read the calendar event description and talk to the trip organiser.  This will make sure that you, and everyone else, has the most fun on the water!

Any payment for accommodation is typically made directly to the campsite or bunkhouse, but will sometimes be made to the trip organiser personally.  It's a tenet of Club trips that no-one makes money from them - they cover costs only (sometimes coaches will get partial expenses if they otherwise wouldn't go on the trip).  

IMG 20151227 140357 12312 800 600 80Transport is by private vehicles, and usually shared - there's no Club minibus and we don't hire coaches.  We try to share lifts wherever possible, and Club members usually have a spare seat or two in their car.  This is organised either through the mailing lists, on the Maidstone Paddlers Facebook group, or the trip organiser will sort it out via email.  Fuel costs are then split between passengers.

Food is typically organised individually - a pub meal is often involved -  but it's rare that food will be provided or cooked by the trip organiser.  Worth checking this out, as paddling hungry is no fun!

On the water, there will always be people competent to lead the group.  Whether they've got formal qualifications or just lots of experience will depend on the trip and the group paddling, but there will always be some organisation and direction.  This varies depending on the kind of trip:

"Coached" Trips

If a trip is being run as, for example, an Introduction to Whitewater, and is described as a training or coaching weekend, things will be a bit more formal than usual.  The coach will probably mandate a start time, decide the paddling route, and tell you what to do.  It will be more like the beginner courses from that regard - the aim is to learn a specific set of skills, and this means a more-structured format.

"Guided" Trips

P7110549 11707 600 450 80Less formal than the "coached" trips, these tend to be run by a more-experienced paddler taking less-experienced members somewhere.  This might form part of a larger group, with less-experienced paddlers running one river section with a leader, while another group goes elsewhere, or might be the whole group.  Whoever is leading the group will choose a suitable stretch of water based on the skills of the group, and make sure everyone stays together and has a good time.  There will probably be some discussion about various options available, with the group leader making the final call.

"Peer Paddling" Trips

The least formal style of trip.  Just paddlers out having fun together.  Ideal for groups of more experienced paddlers with similar skill levels.  They'll decide together which sections to paddle and how to paddle it, probably without any one person acting as "leader".  Regardless, safety is still a priority, and everyone on the river will be looking out for each other.

IMG 20150919 102928880 11901 600 450 80Of course, these distinctions aren't hard-and-fast, and most trips cross these categories.  Groups might split up for part of the day, with more-energetic paddlers going for a long day out and more-relaxed paddlers going with a river leader somewhere more gentle.  And whatever is planned in advance can always be changed on the day, depending on the skills and needs of the group, as well as weather, river levels, etc.  We're all paddlers together, no matter our skill level, so you'll be looked after on the water, and you'll definitely have a good time!  Take a look at our upcoming trip dates here, and come paddling!