HROCC 2023-2024 General Member Survey Summary

In December of 2023 the HROCC board, coaches and steers developed a general membership survey. The survey was designed to acquire the membership's views on a variety of topics and assist in future planning to provide a better experience for all club members. The survey link was emailed to 92 HROCC active members. Two additional reminders were also sent before the survey was closed on January 10th.

The survey consisted of 8 sections including:

  • ●  Boats/Canoe Purchase

  • ●  Practice Schedule

  • ●  On the Water

  • ●  Racing

  • ●  New Paddlers

  • ●  Safety

  • ●  General Membership Issues

  • ●  Guest Paddler Policy

    During the second week of January, HROCC Board members took on the task of reviewing, compiling, analyzing and summarizing the survey data, and then discussed the results at the January board meeting. Each topic has been scheduled for more in-depth discussion at future board meetings, with the practice schedule having been prioritized for immediate action in February.

    The survey response was fantastic, with 74% (68) members providing hundreds of comments, critiques and perspectives on the above topics that influence the club operations and ohana. The extensive positive, loving, supportive and appreciative comments and recognition of the nature of HROCC and our growing pains, in response to the question “how satisfied are you with HROCC,” were such a joy to read! They are the reason we all paddle and give our time to help HROCC be its best.

    Below is a summary by topic of the survey results, and in some cases, an initial plan to address the input of the members. Your board, steers and race coaches will continue to work with the survey responses to develop and refine ideas over the season.

    Boats/Canoe Purchase

    There was overall support for pursuing the purchase of an additional canoe. At the January HROCC Board meeting, the board established a Capital Campaign Committee to further research over this next year the specific need, type of boat, costs and fundraising ideas. Suz Burd, Suzi Elle, Andrew McElderry, Bob Smith and Josh Sceva are the current Capital Campaign Committee members. While the committee doesn’t expect any new boat purchase immediately this year, it does have a preliminary recommendation that the club should begin the process of establishing a fund for the eventual replacement of our aging Spec boats. This is consistent with the board’s budget and financial reporting updates for the 2024 season.


2024 Practice Schedule & On the Water

Summary of comments received:

  • ●  There was strong interest in adding evening and weekend practices, but also keeping an AM schedule.

  • ●  Mixing crews in terms of experience can be challenging for the steers and some paddlers, especially in rough water or very physically demanding practices.

  • ●  There should be preset times when more experienced paddlers can paddle hard with high skill expectations, and other times when a mix of experienced and progressing paddlers can practice together and evolve their skills and crew knowledge.

  • ●  There was interest in adventure paddles and ohana fun times on the river.

  • ●  There was also interest in more coaching and drills, but also caution about too many voices

    offering unsolicited advice in inappropriate moments.

  • ●  Consistency is sought in the club’s preferred paddle technique (this helps crews blend), how to

    safely rig, move and store canoes, and performing drills.

  • ●  There was interest in holding more special clinics, with the highest responses for huli drills,

    paddle technique and crew blending.

    2024 Practice Schedule

    Based on the survey results, and subsequent discussions at the board and lead steers committee, we are pleased to announce the 2024 HROCC practice schedule:

    Regular Club Practices

    Mon, Wed & Fri - 6:45-8:00 am Mon & Wed - 5:00-7:00 pm Sunday 9:00 am - Or TBD

    Race Crew Practice

    Tues 6:45-8:00 am, (sometimes longer, with advanced notice, to prepare for races) Thur race crew-ups - TBD by crews

    This season we are going to try themes for each practice, described and posted using ski vernacular (Green Circle, Blue Square and Black Diamond) so members can select what best fits their skill level and interest:

  • ●  Black Diamond: Monday & Wednesday AM

  • ●  Blue Square: Monday and Wednesday PM; lead steers will assign boats and workouts based on

    experience of paddlers attending, with all levels welcome

  • ●  Green Circle/Ohana: Friday and Sunday to paddle well, blend together, explore and enjoy

    The steers will develop, document and use a set of skill-based drills for each practice to add consistency and support paddler and crew progression.



As we did last year, and consistent with our current crew-up policy, other race or recreational crew-ups can be scheduled by a self-organized crew with a lead steers any time outside of regular club or race crew practice hours. Crew-ups must reserve boats in advance using Team Cowboy. We encourage groups to be as inclusive as possible.

Special Clinics

Pool huli drills are tentatively set for April 21 and May 18.

HROCC will also hold more in-basin and on-river huli drills and remount practices throughout the season so that members can safely learn in real-world conditions.

We have plans for several other fun and exciting clinics over the season – stay tuned!

Racing Team

Summary of comments received:

  • ●  The club should strive to be as competitive as possible.

  • ●  There was wide support for having both novice and experienced teams based on clear criteria

    like skill, number of past races and clinics, fitness, number of years paddling, and ability to


  • ●  Measurable criteria should be used to seat the race crews including boat pulls and time trials.

  • ●  Responses were split evenly on whether to set crews at the start of the season and stay with

    those crews or set crews ahead of each race.

  • ●  There was support for continued use of crew-ups (i.e., self-organized groups that manage their

    own race plan) for non-HROCC/out-of-area races.

    Training Plan

● Tuesday 6:45-8:00 am race practices
o Coaches will not break crews into novice and experienced for practices at this time, but

may base boat assignments and workout plans on actual conditions and paddler skill

levels (e.g., doing intervals in the basin vs. downwinding in rough water). ● Thursdays TBD race team crew-ups

o Work on:
Skills and drills in basin

Distance training
Ladder intervals
Time trials / races in 6-man at end of practices with drone footage Huli and bracing drills

● Qualifications
Racers must have paddled with HROCC for a minimum of one-year or have come to the

club with previous paddling/racing experience before joining the race team
o Racers must be available to participate in at least two of the local races. However, joining

and paying to be on the race team does not guarantee a seat in a boat to race.

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● Races
o Club-sanctioned local races for 2024 include:

  • ▪  April 20 Rusty Iron - Blend new racers in with experienced

  • ▪  April 27 Race Around the Island (RATI) - Blend new with experienced, run a

    novice boat with qualified steers

  • ▪  June 29 Rooster Rock - Competitive and novice teams

  • ▪  July 6 Gorge race – Competitive (see below for more detail)

  • ▪  August TBD, Bellingham or PNW challenge - Competitive and novice teams

o Out-of-area races will not be club organized or sponsored; crews will need to self-organize and schedule training following the CUPU policy.

● Mid-April meeting the race coaches will have a questionnaire for all racers

Other Race Team Dates:

  • ●  April 16 ish - Racers meet, greet and discuss the year. Conduct racer survey

  • ●  May 5 - Set 4 or 5 Gorge Race teams that will crew-up to practice in the waves together for two

    months. Thursdays available for these crews or wind dependent downwind adventures. This is the race we want to win and we will work these crews hard. Another boat or two may form for a more casual gorge race experience at a later date.

  • ●  Dates TBD - Club hopes to organize two race clinics this season. New Paddlers

    Summary of comments received:

  • ●  Tips and Techniques was rated very highly for new paddler exposure, and comments reflected generally positive views of the current approach for new paddlers, i.e., Tips and Techniques, Earn your Whistle and Mentors.

  • ●  Steers need to be aware of who is a Mentor and who is a new paddler. They should strive to keep these paddlers together when possible.

  • ●  Mentors, steers (and others who give guidance) need to be consistent in technique and instruction.

  • ●  Mentors were varied in their attention, outreach and participation with new paddlers.

  • ●  Some comments suggest that new paddlers should only come when weather and water is more

    conducive to introduction to paddling.

  • ●  Remount practices and understanding of the huli for new paddlers was frequently mentioned.


  • ●  Keep three (3) free Tips & Techniques before asking new members to join the club.

  • ●  Increase Tips and Technique topics beyond paddling to include safety, seat roles and


  • ●  Encourage all club members to mentor and help grow the club and the skills of novices. Ohana

    and community are the priority.

  • ●  More ‘train the trainer’ with mentors to help them help novices.

  • ●  Increase connection with the steers group to review the new paddler guidelines regarding Mentoring, Scheduling and Instruction.

  • ●  More content and videos on the website and Earn Your Whistle topics regarding safety, seat roles and technique.

  • ●  Lead Steers may place safety limitations on the number of novices in general practices under certain rough water/high wind conditions.

  • ●  New Paddler self-checklist to be developed for skills and knowledge. Safety

    Summary of comments received:

  • ●  Almost all respondents felt the club “is professional and attentive to on-river safety”.

  • ●  Good track record noted for a 10-year club with lots of canoes and time on the water.

  • ●  A multitude of comments echoed the need/interest in greater opportunities for practicing hulis,

    which extends to remount practices, using straps, how to assist other paddlers and seat roles.

  • ●  Need better knowledge of bracing and seat roles to help support the boat and steers in high


  • ●  Need to increase comfort and confidence in (not just on) the water and the wind. Fear and

    hesitation can inhibit ideal paddling.

  • ●  The water temperature is a key safety factor and paddlers need to dress appropriately.

  • ●  Paddler experience and abilities should factor into their attendance on high wind or low temp



  • ●  Strengthen the requirement for neoprene or equivalent in spring – steers to be exemplary and firm.

  • ●  Pool and on-water huli practices are scheduled.

  • ●  Increased times during practices for remounts, reduce apprehension of the water.

  • ●  Steers meetings, leadership, resources and planned clinics are providing increased knowledge

    by all steers regarding safety and skills for steering.

    General Membership & Guest Policy

    Summary of comments received:

  • ●  88% of the survey responses reflected strong satisfaction with the club.

  • ●  There were a number of requests for 1 on 1 instruction to help paddling consistency, a hunger

    for more technical coaching including video, interval workouts, and drills.

  • ●  91% responded that the cost of membership did not impact willingness to participate. 72%

    responded that the cost of membership was “Just about right” and 32% said “I could pay more.”

  • ●  41% responded that they were interested in joining other club members in pre/post paddling

    exercise, yoga or stretching, and on/off season training. 50% said maybe

  • ●  Getting more youth, younger adult paddlers and ensuring sufficient volunteers for the HROCC

    community events is a key need for the club.

  • ●  Other than Tips & Techniques, 96% said they agree with the current guest policy that seats are

    only available to experienced OC6 paddlers

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  • ●  The Board will discuss and take actions to recruit more youth and younger adults.

  • ●  In March, the Board will set a volunteer policy for all club members.

  • ●  There will be a call-out to identify HROCC volunteers.

  • ●  A schedule of volunteer opportunities will be posted on the website and Team Cowboy.

  • ●  There will be a Season Opening and General Membership Meeting in April.

    A big THANK YOU for taking the time to weigh in on this survey. Your voice is important and we hear you. The HROCC leadership has always been committed to open communication and transparency. With the understanding that communication will always be a work in progress the HROCC Board, steers and coaches continue to strive to find more and better ways to make improvements.

    The HROCC Board of Directors meets each third Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for March 20th at 5:30pm. Club members wishing to listen in can request the zoom link. You can request to participate by contacting club president Sherry Bohn at

In the spirit of Ohana...

HROCC encourages and expects continuous learning about the sport of paddling.  Like most things, the more you learn about paddling, the more you realize how much you have yet to learn!  The language, roles and spirit of paddling will come up every day you paddle.  Want to be a Boat Guardian for the season ? Scroll below for Guardian Duties.

Click on Seat Roles to get you started. 

Hood River Outrigger Canoe Club is a 501(c)3 all volunteer non-profit organization 

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