The results of the 2021 PNSW Survey of Paddle Educators in NSW suggested that it was time for a face-to-face Conference where PAQs and Coaches could get together, learn new things and share experiences. After covid restrictions were lifted, Lynn Parker (PAQs Coordinator) and Margi Böhm (Coach Coordinator) organised a 1.5 day event in mid July at Castlereagh Conference Centre in Penrith. Planning went well until 10 days before the scheduled date when yet another flood inundated the region. After a few days of anxiety, the Conference Centre people let us know all was good and the conference could go ahead as planned – the only snafu was that SIRC was now no longer available to us for the on-water sessions.
There were 45 participants, almost evenly split between Coaches and PAQs Educators. The majority of the group identified themselves as flatwater and ocean paddlers with wildwater and canoe polo also represented.
The program included face-to-face and online presentations which provided some challenges but the conference organising team sorted this out with excellent AV support allowing for roaming microphones and visuals. The outcome was that during the online sessions, the audience could easily ask questions and the presenter could see close ups of those asking the questions. This gave the conference a professional touch. A special thank-you to all involved. “Clearly a lot of work went into the conference. It was top class”.
The conference tried to address topics of interest to both groups and for the most part succeeded with comments like “Went with an open mind and was not disappointed”; “I came away from the conference invigorated”; “You have inspired me”. While feedback on the content suggested that some PAQs Leaders did not learn much from the Coaching sessions, the following comment sums up the general experience … ““if it’s a once yearly or every 2 years, I think it would be good to keep trying to get all educators together. I think we can learn from each other” and “Regular education conferences are invaluable. Thanks for this one!”
A highlight was the catering … “Maria was brilliant. Everyone helped with washing up, serving etc. It was excellent”. The venue was also a hit being close to inland NSW participants and those from Sydney. Not having access to SIRC was a major disruption for the on-water sessions, but hopefully that will not be a problem next time.
Finally, a big thank-you to PNSW, all the organisors and presenters and to PA. We look forward to working with the paddle education community towards a bigger and better conference in 2023.