Member Benefits Program - A Tale of Serendipity

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It was a dark and stormy night… Actually, it was quite a pleasant warm sunny day in July. 

We launched for our day paddle from basecamp. The water was calm, the air was warm, and guests were smiling and happy. We planned our stops at beaches, a lunch break and the best kelp patch to have a snack and chat. As we got further from camp, I felt a breeze on my bare neck and a little playful bounce in the water. A quick knowing glance at my co-guides acknowledged the possibility of that pesky northwest wind coming through as forecasted and altering our plans. Within 20 minutes, it was clear that it was time to turn around and head back before things started to get spicy. As the wind picked up, we were forced to land on a fairly exposed beach rather than paddling to the other side of the headland.

As the waves began crashing onto the shore, I leapt out of my boat heroically and ran to the aid of the wide-eyed, windswept paddlers. While I waded in to catch more guests, I noticed others carrying my kayak up to safety, away from the gusts and ever rising tide. 

After things settled down, I went to collect my personal items. I stood next to my kayak for a very long time… but where in the world was my paddle? I checked all over camp, just in case someone had picked it up for me. But alas! It was nowhere to be found. My first paddle. A precious gift. I cast my memory to that frantic scene and had a sudden slow motion flashback of my boat being carried up the beach. There was no paddle in the cockpit. 

I swung around dramatically, craning my neck to peer down to where we had landed. The high tide had filled the shoreline. Sigh. Goodbye old friend. 

The next day, I reluctantly used a spare paddle for our early morning float. I wasn’t thrilled about it, but there was coffee, so I made it through.

This next part is important. I want you to close your eyes and imag - no wait, no! Don’t close your eyes. Keep reading, but picture it in your mind.

[switch from past to present tense for dramatic effect]

The water taxi rounds the point and drifts in towards the beach. The guide, your friend(!) stands majestically on the edge of the boat, in a pose almost reminiscent of a gladiator. I wave. She waves. Suddenly, the light is coming only from behind her. Her silhouette holds something up in triumph towards the sky. I could cry! It’s my brand new paddle…

The context for this overly dramatic story.

Just two months earlier, I added my selection to a group order for my dream paddle. Carbon and bent shaft for my weary wrists. I had gotten so wrapped up in my busy season that I’d forgotten all about it, until it appeared before me, like a serendipitous gift sent from the paddling gods. 

Why is this story relevant? 

Well, to me, it highlights the need that we, as professional guides have, for quality gear. Every single day we rely on a huge range of clothing, boats, tents, tarps, knives (and paddles!) to keep us warm, dry and able to provide an exceptional level of service to our guests. Without this gear, we could probably still do our jobs, but it would be significantly less enjoyable. 

Why am I telling you this now? 

Well, because we are revamping our pro-deal program. Drum roll please… Introducing: The Member Benefits Program. New name, new message (and even some new deals!). The Member Benefits Program is just that - a benefit for our members. We are privileged to do the work we do, and to receive the opportunity to purchase high quality gear at a more affordable price from many great companies, both local and international. 

Why is the Membership Benefits Program important? 

Every year we prepare ourselves for the next season - from restocking kits, certifying (and recertifying), participating in courses, exams and other types of professional development to keep our skills sharp. After all that, there isn’t always a lot left in the budget for replacing clothing, essential gear, like sleeping bags and tents, and other equipment that aids us in being both comfortable and prepared for the work ahead. Having access to top gear at discounted prices provides the tools we need to succeed.

A final note from me

Throughout the winter, I have been building relationships between these companies and the SKGABC, so that we may benefit from each other well into the future. Every interaction that we have with these companies has an effect on this relationship. Reps are there to assist us with our purchasing, answer questions and check credentials. They do not control the price, product availability or shipping. To keep our relationship thriving, it’s good to remind ourselves that the reps on the other end of our emails are just nice people doing their jobs, and deserve our patience and respect. My exchanges with all of the reps have been very pleasant, and they are just as enthusiastic about providing awesome ‘stuff’ as we are about receiving it!

Alternatives to buying new

I’m sure we’ve all noticed the supply chain issues over the last few years. While that may affect your ability to purchase your desired gear this year, another great option to supplement your stash is purchasing used or repairing your existing gear. On our new Membership Benefits Program page, there is a list of suggested resources for you. Find used gear, local stores and gear repair services. We’ve even listed a few options on how to recycle gear that has reached the end of its life.

These lists are works in progress. We’ll update the information as we continue to hear back from other brands and manufacturers. Please share any suggestions for repair or recycling options that you know about! There are plenty out there that we haven’t discovered. 

Check out our Member Benefits page for more information on eligibility, misuse, and for the list of participating companies. Be sure to read all of the information before you start applying. 

Happy paddling!

Aleia Wylie

SKGABC Board Member at Large