My name is Sam Frankel, and I’m serving as the President of the Maine Association of Sea Kayak Guides and Instructors (MASKGI) for 2017-2018. I picked up my license in 2016 after a few years of increasingly serious sea kayaking. I took my guide course from Tidal Transit in Boothbay, and am preparing for my third season working for Portland Paddle in beautiful Casco Bay. As MASKGI prepares for our annual membership drive, I thought I’d summarize what we have planned in 2018!
For those who may be new to the organization, MASKGI is a professional association for sea kayak guides in our state. MASKGI’s goals are to:
- Provide professional development opportunities for guides to improve their skills;
- Advocate for guides and outfitters with State agencies and boards;
- Promote safety by building a strong community of guides ready to teach safe paddling skills on the water.
MASKGI’s goals are consistent, but each year we evolve a calendar of activity based on needs expressed by members and opportunities for collaboration. For example, last year we organized seminars on understanding weather, after a discussion at our Fall meeting. We also responded to a request from the U.S. Coast Guard to assist with their Paddle Smart campaign events. Most of our events take place either during the winter or the “shoulder” seasons, since during the summer many of us are on the water full-time!
MASKGI organizes some events directly, but also promotes those put on by our members and other groups. We try to act as a direct provider of services, but also as a network that finds and amplifies opportunities for guides in general. Events we organize or amplify are typically open to the community, but often offered at significant discounts for MASKGI members. Here’s what we have planned for 2018!
- In January, February and March we’ll be organizing and/or promoting indoor “pool sessions” to work on kayak skills during the off season. It’s a great time to get started learning or perfecting your roll!
- In February and March we’re hoping to offer another round of the “understanding weather” seminars with John Huth. These had a great response from both paddlers and sailors who attended last year.
- In April and May we’ll be offering and/or promoting pre-season training opportunities like Wilderness First Aid Afloat and rough water rescues. This is an example of how we can amplify classes offered by some of our terrific instructor members, who often provide a significant discount for MASKGI members.
- In May we’ll have our Spring Meeting, where we’ll discuss opportunities for the organization and how best to support members.
- These discussions include advocacy around professional issues to the Maine Guide Board and Department of Marine Resources.
- From May to September we look for opportunities to teach paddling safety to the public. For example:
- Last year MASKGI members appeared on Maine Public Radio and WERU to discuss paddling safety and make public service announcements.
- We assisted the U.S. Coast Guard with their Paddle Smart campaign events with in water demonstrations.
- MASKGI members are on hand to respond to media inquiries in the unfortunate event of paddling injuries or fatalities. We try to reinforce safety practices that will reduce these tragedies.
- In November we have our Fall Meeting where we elect officers and discuss ideas for the year to come.
- …and then the cycle begins again!
I hope this brief sketch of our activity makes you excited to renew your membership or join us for the first time. MASKGI memberships run the calendar year from January 1st to December 31st, although you can join anytime. Just visit our website, get in touch by email, or come to one of our events! We have an active Facebook group where we discuss paddling, issues related to guiding, and just socialize. Whether you’re a guide, interested in becoming one, or an outfitter, we hope you’ll join our community.
Happy 2018 on the water!