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Running a SUP Club!

Running a SUP Club!

What’s involved in running SUP Tonic?

I’ve been asked this question many times – have you got all day?!

I sat for ages on this. Stuck on how to describe what’s involved and how to keep it simple.  This has been considerably condensed but I thought our club members and casual paddlers might like some insight into how it runs and what’s involved.

Here goes.

Firstly, I have to be an accredited SUP Instructor. This involves completing and passing a course on how to teach and deliver SUP sessions safely and correctly. Instructors are required to pass fitness time trials that involve running, prone paddling and SUP paddling. We must have current working with children, senior first aid and CPR certificates.  To run a SUP School, I have to pass further accreditation requirements that allow me to charge a fee to teach people, to run SUP Camps, teach in schools and run all sorts of events including river clean up gigs and private lessons.

A permit is required for each location that I operate in. This involves an application to shires and councils every year and I must provide all of my accreditations and insurance to receive a permit. I require many shire and council permits that cover operations from Perth to regional areas.

The final permit process is to provide the DBCA (Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions) all of the documents including personal accreditations and once I have this license, I’m good to go. The renewals come around very quickly so being ready to go again is similar to tax time!  Just when you think you’re done, here it comes again!

The social media side is huge and challenging for a non techie like me. Managing the booking system across several social media platforms and the website is a big job. Uploading all the fun and inspiring stuff we do is a major priority so we can create memories and leave behind legacies when we are long gone! Whilst I love posting the fun stuff, the computer time takes a toll on my poor old eyeballs. On the odd occasion I totally lose my cool and want to punch a hole in the computer – especially when a post I’ve spent hours on just disappears!! So, when you come across a typo or three, cut me a little slack, send a gentle note and I’ll fix it as soon as I can!

Trailer, equipment maintenance and board repairs must be done regularly but is often the last thing that gets attended to! Scrubbing boards should be a job for kids – hindsight is a wonderful thing!!  So, I look at it as a gym workout – find the positives, natural exercise!

Planning sessions, running sessions and making sure I show up every single time is non-negotiable – I do take it seriously. No sickies, no sleep in’s, no time for injuries or “I can’t be bothered today”. It goes with the territory that every side hustle/ business operator understands.

Safety, safety, safety. It may not always be apparent, but I’m always on high alert to make sure everyone is safe, watching out for hazards and potential issues that might turn your session into a nightmare.  It’s important for all paddlers to understand and respect safety guidelines and instruction from your instructors. It’s a serious job to make your experience fun and rewarding.

Maintaining fitness. I have a lot of heavy lifting to do, I need to pass fitness tests, chase after wayward paddlers and our customers and members need to have confidence in the instructor’s ability. You need to know we can look after you if you get into some strife.

Upskilling. SUP technique is fascinating, interesting and evolving all the time. Some paddlers don’t care much for technique and that’s ok. Instructors however, need to be up to date with professional development, skills and knowledge so we can pass this on to our customers and members. It’s an important part of the service and is our point of difference from non-accredited SUP groups.

Planning sessions and events months in advance. Going over all the pros and cons, project managing events and liaising with 3rd party service providers to make sure all parts are going to work – it doesn’t always work out no matter how much planning goes into it so having a plan B & C is essential and knowing when to abort or take a risk and forge ahead is all part of the process.  Keeping an eye on the weather and making deals with the weather gods seems to be going well for us most of the time!!

Stress. This goes with the territory. There is no way anyone can run this gig without a degree of stress, worry and anxiety for a multitude of reasons. And if one can keep going despite the uncomfortable feeling of stress and more than a few sleepless nights – they’re doing great!

In a nutshell – this is pretty much a day in the life of a SUP operator. It’s not just a job, it’s not fun all of the time, it’s a life purpose!

Next up will be a recap of all the things SUP Tonic has achieved since birth. When I went through this in my head recently, I blew my own mind – it’s been a HUGE effort for a small group of people!!

Till then folks, enjoy the SUP Life – Way of Life.

Maree x

Photo Credit: Veronica McPhail Photography



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