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Spring 2020 Update from Paddler Co-op

a group of people rowing a boat in a body of water

Dear friends of the Co-op,

We hope this note finds you healthy, happy and adapting to spending time at home and simplifying life for a while. It sure is a big change for everyone to be reducing their time outdoors and practicing physical distancing at a time of year when we usually look forward to gathering around campfires and on riverbanks, and enjoying the warm sunshine that seems to be so powerful and welcoming at this time of year. We want to take a moment to update you on how the coop is planning to balance the well being of our community and organization as we move into spring.

Knowing that we are all experiencing a very different reality these days, we want to say that our thoughts are with you and your loved ones at this time, and we sincerely hope that you are finding the support and sense of comfort that you need to navigate the uncharted waters of our current health crisis. If there’s anything we can do to help alleviate your longing for adventure, provide some river banter, plan your next dream trip, set skills achievement goals, share what life is like in Palmer Rapids these days, or if you find yourself simply wanting someone to talk to, please reach out – we are all in this together!

The snow is melting and water levels are rising in the Madawaska Valley – it feels oddly alienating to not be meeting friends at our favourite put-in to soak up a day of spring sun and share in the wonder of whitewater. At Paddler Co-op, we have been working hard to come up with a fluid plan for what our early season is going to look like.

The board of directors has made the decision to postpone all scheduled programs and courses, and keep our site closed until June 1st, 2020 in light of the current restrictions and estimations from public health officials and policymakers. It is with a heavy heart that we will postpone our season opening fundraiser and annual paddler gathering, Palmer River Fest. Rest assured we have every intention of hosting the festival later in the season when the risk and potential health consequences of public events has dramatically decreased. Similarly, any scheduled courses or programs before June 1st, 2020 will be postponed until later in the season. We are fully committed to fulfilling our members needs by providing expert instruction and tailored programs as soon as the world comes alive again. We will be contacting individuals whose programs are affected in the coming days to share our plan and work on rescheduling.

So what does this mean?

It’s hard to boil down our current circumstances to any one notion, though one thing is certain: as an organization, we are feeling the pain of the pandemic, are already suffering losses in revenue that are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and are being forced to incur debt in order to reopen our doors on the far side of this crisis. Many of you know, as a not-for-profit we operate on tight margins and rely heavily on the income from Palmer River Fest and our spring programs to jumpstart our business each year and allow our summer youth programs to run. It is going to be difficult to persevere amid these challenging circumstances, though we can draw wisdom from what we have known and shared for over twenty years on the river:

Assess the situation, communicate with your group,  make a sound plan, set safety as required and execute with confidence. All waters lead downstream.

As a member, what can I do?

Now more than ever we are asking our membership, however possible, to step in and show their support for the Paddler Co-op. Here’s how you can support!

•Please consider paying your $10 annual membership today! Memberships must be paid before taking a course, renting, or camping at Paddler Co-op, so why not invest in advance and save yourself some money down the line? Memberships can be paid by e-transfer to and will soon be available for purchase on our website.

•Consider purchasing a gift card for yourself, for a friend or family member. Gift cards are a great way of investing in your paddling skills and awareness for any time in the future. They are also valid for any of our programs, events, camping, or custom courses and they never expire!

• Buy some swag! We have hats, sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops and bumper stickers in a variety of sizes available for order. Email or give us a call at (613) 758-2772 and we’ll coordinate shipment and payment.

• Donations are a great way of showing your support because in times like these, there’s just no substitute for cold, hard cash to pay rent, utilities, insurance, and all those inevitable bills. E-transfers are graciously accepted at

• Those who have registered and paid for courses before June 1st 2020 are encouraged to reschedule later in the season. We are honouring rescheduling for all bookings for the 2020 or 2021 season. We will be in touch shortly regarding postponed bookings.

• Share some of your time or ideas with us!  If you feel like you have some time, skills or ideas to dedicate to the cause, we’re all ears! Media and production skills are especially valuable in this time of self-isolation. Or, let us know what you think we can do to continue to serve you as a member of the co-op community. Please reach out over email or social media.

One way or another, we’ll all make it through this challenging time. We are committed to being transparent with our members and honest, and appreciate you taking the time to read. And if you’re going to get in touch and offer support after reading this, then thank you so much in advance.

As the situation progresses and decisions are made about 2020 operations, we will keep you in the loop with regular updates. In the meantime, you can tune in to our website, instagram and facebook pages to learn more about how we’re navigating COVID-19, what physically-distanced paddling looks like when the time finally comes around, and how the heck we’re keeping busy during self-isolation.

Stay healthy and happy, wash your hands, stay at home, keep visualizing those lines, and call your mother in law once in a while. Or your neighbour. We all appreciate someone reaching out to see how we’re doing!

One stroke at a time, 

Ryan, Lynda and the Board of Directors