The new paddling season is nearly upon us. All of those day paddles, practice sessions, surfing outings and overnight trips may still appear unreal as most of us dream of blue water but the snow is melting. Chicago Area Sea Kayakers Association will have another busy season in 2011. Right now it is time for you to join the circle of like-mined CASKA members to help thaw our open water out!
I joined a couple of years ago. Saturday morning paddles in the company of experienced CASKA sea kayakers opened the door to the treasure that is Lake Michigan. I could have, of course, gone out on my own but the lake, beautiful as it is, can turn into a death trap without warning. The negligible price of the membership paid for itself many times through a free pool session, subsidized first aid course, and discounts from the local kayak shops. Yet, at the time, was not quite clear on the purpose of CASKA.
I was quickly directed to CASKA official website where anyone can find a masterfully crafted mission statement:
"To encourage and promote safe paddling on our local (Illinois) waterways, including both rivers and Lake Michigan; to interface with local government agencies in regards to environmental and access issues; and to provide networking opportunities for our paddling community."
Hence, the C.A.S.K.A. C.A.S.E! Community, Access, Safety, and Environment. I figured you may want to know why we need a club with paid membership.
First and foremost, most of these funds go to create and maintain the ways for a community of paddlers to get together. CASKA secures and maintains a virtual meeting ground, a website with resources for anyone who wants to paddle in our waters as well as a blog rich in information relevant for local paddlers. Part of CASKA membership fee goes to support the efforts of Illinois Paddling Council and American Canoe Association. Membership with these two advocates for paddlers' rights connects us to a larger community of Illinois and American paddlers at large. More immediately, part of CASKA budget goes to facilitate face-to-face member meetings in various formats throughout the year.
All three of the organizations above—CASKA, IPC, and ACA—serve as the voice of paddlers in advocating for our rights to access and use the blueways. Officers and members of these clubs keep an eye on any developments in the public sector that may impact what we can and cannot do. Lake Michigan Water Trail is one of the long-standing projects that will eventually provide access points for a paddler to go all the way around the only Great Lake surrounded by four US states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
CASKA stands for safe and responsible use of water. Visit our safety center for starters. Most CASKA day and overnight trips are led by experienced sea kayakers who can not only help out a fellow paddler in trouble but also share their knowledge to prevent that trouble from developing in the first place. Many CASKA members are certified instructors.
Last, but definitely not least, CASKA advocates for preservation and improvement of the environment in which we paddle. The urban area in which we do most of our paddling is surrounded by industry giants and pollution is a very real danger. Our members have spoken for water quality in the lake and the Chicago River at multiple public forums over the years. CASKA members also organize regular clean-up events throughout the paddling season. Look for them on our Calendar.
So, if any of these four pillars that found CASKA appeal to you, join us by signing up electronically on CASKA website. Everyone who joins or renews is entitled to a spiffy BPA-free CASKA water bottle with a karabiner. The only catch is that you have to get it at one of CASKA functions.
As CASKA member, you can also get a prorated ACA membership on their website.
See you on the water!