We just spent a tremendous day at the Quiet Water Symposium, an all-volunteer event for paddlers and silent sports enthusiasts held in East Lansing, Michigan. It was busier than ever, with attendance hovering somewhere near the 2,500 mark for the Saturday event.
It was great fun to meet so many fellow paddlers, and a number of first responders as well. It also was incredibly gratifying to see the turnout for my presentation, “Packing the Perfect ‘Oh Sh!t Kit,’ A Murphy’s Law Adventure Guide.” I would have been pleased to see a couple of dozen people at any safety presentation. Instead, it was standing room only, with over 180 people in the room!
We later learned that it was one of the top three best attended presentations of the show. Given the number of big-name outdoors speakers in attendance, I was absolutely floored by that. But it shows just how much people want good information to make their time on the water safer and more enjoyable. It also was a great audience, and we shared a few stories and a lot of laughs too.
The Outdoor Kind, LLC, was out on the main floor, too. We had a booth to tell people about our organization, provide some safety information, and display our first two T-shirt designs: the kayaking bear and canoeing moose. We also held a silent auction of some original wildlife photography – our version of the three bears. All of this material will be on sale on our website later this year to raise funds for first responders and conduct educational safety outreach.
Two Sea To Summit “Kitchen Sinks” were also part of our silent auction, courtesy of Mary Butler and the good people at that company. We love these coated nylon containers as part of a fire-safety package for kayakers and other space-conscious paddlers, and have used one on our trips for years. The 20-litre units expand from a small disc to hold over five gallons of water that you can keep near your campfire to prevent problems. You also can use it for washing dishes, washing yourself, getting drinking water for your crew…you name it. It’s a great product that deserves a spot in your camping kit!
For much of the day, our booth was staffed by two amazing volunteers – Vanessa Maldonado and Siaira Milroy. The two are students at Michigan State University – Vanessa in the graduate program and Siaira in the undergrad. They’re outdoors enthusiasts, too, and hail from some spectacular country – Vanessa is a mountaineer from Quito, Ecuador, and Siaira is a “local” hiker and camper from beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. I met both that day through the couchsurfing network, and it was great to learn more about them while we were talking to show attendees as well.
I’ll be taking this safety presentation on the road very soon – on March 10th and 11th at Rutabaga’s Canoecopia. (You can see the time and locations of my presentation on the Canoecopia site.) Please stop by and say hello if you plan on being at the show!
We’re wrapping things up in the office today, sending out emails and thank-you notes, and we can’t help but smile about Saturday’s event. We’re looking forward to attending it next year, of course, and a number of other shows this year. Paddlers are the best people, and it’s always great to get out and share ideas and stories. If you were at the QWS, please stay in touch by liking our Facebook page and checking back here often.
Take good care, and we’ll see you out on the water!