2015 Updates to the Sea Kayaking Minimum Standards

On February 7th of this year, Leaders and committee members from every branch that offers Sea Kayaking met in Tacoma and discussed their shared concerns. Their discussions led to a recommendation that has now been adopted by The Mountaineers as an organization.
Chris Williams Chris Williams
May 01, 2015
2015 Updates to the Sea Kayaking Minimum Standards

The Managing Committee, made up of Branch Chairs and Board Reps from across the organization, recently approved the recommendations for changes to the Minimum Standards for Sea Kayaking.

These changes now apply to all Sea Kayaking activities at every branch. 

Sea Kayaking Summit Results in Updated Minimum Standards

Background: On February 7, Leaders and committee members from every branch that offers Sea Kayaking met in Tacoma and discussed their shared concerns, some of which involved making updates to the Minimum Standards (note: Kitsap representatives were unable to attend, but did send in some notes that were discussed). That body of 28 paddling experts agreed on changes that were then recommended to the Managing Committee. Many of the branches also deliberated over them at their Branch Council level. On April 30, the votes of the Managing Committee members were tallied and the changes were adopted for the organization (our Board of Directors delegates activity standard questions to the Managing Committee to determine). 

Summary of Changes

  • Clarification of a phrase that had caused confusion about sea socks was made by stating that "A sea sock is not adequate flotation without float bags." 
  • The word "clothing" was replaced by "attire" to describe necessary gear for "the conditions" (rather than the conditions that are "encountered seasonally"). 
  • A specific list of potential equipment a Leader may require for a trip was omitted, leaving it clear that the Leader could decide additional things than were on the list.
  •  The word "classroom" was deleted and replaced with "off-water" to allow more flexibility to committees to allow on-shore instruction to meet the instruction requirements
  • The "Beaufort scale" was de-emphasized as a method of evaluating weather, and a swimming requirement of at least 50 yards was added. 
  • There were a few other changes to form and grammar that you can review in the minutes (starting at page 9). 

Not everyone wanted all the changes that were made, but these modifications to the standards represent a huge success in gathering the opinions of the clear majority of kayak leaders and implementing a change that drives consistency across the organization as a whole. It was was then approved by the central committee of volunteers that oversee the operational aspects of our programming. The "summit process" is not the only way to enact changes your activity committees may want, but it was highly organized and effective in this case.


The NEXT Sea Kayaking Summit is already scheduled for February 13, 2016 at the Tacoma Program Center. 

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