Grumping Out of the Forth Canoe Club AGM

I grumped out of the Forth Canoe Club AGM tonight which probably left a bad atmosphere so here’s some explanation why for anyone who’s interested or just for my own therapy.

I’ve been on the committee for the last 8 years as website editor.  That’s a pretty simple role if you’re into making websites but I spent most time filling in whatever gaps needed filling in at the club.  Some of that is time consuming hard work like organising club nights, baths sessions, bookings for coaches, running the Div 1 slalom and some of it is simple but needs doing like buying a new diary each year or taking out the dustbin.  I negotiated access to the 1/4 of the boathouse we didn’t have access to and managed to prevent our landlords moving us to Wester Hails.  And some of it is just making sure people follow the rules like paying for using boats or signing the diary.  It’s exhausting but very satisfying.  When someone breaks into the boathouse or throws the toilet into the canal I go and sort it out.  Others help plenty too but I like to think I do my part.

Over the years I had to put up with quite a lot of hassle from people.  We had a coaching coordinator who didn’t coordinate coaches and kept trying to stop people getting qualifications, that was tricky to work through.  Then the treasurer said I was full of bullshit for asking him to make a budget.  I was called immoral for waiting to buy new boats to replace old ones.  I was told I’d have the police called on me because someone had abandoned boats years ago and I’d no idea where they were.  And a long rant about a grievance with me because I pointed out someone should pay for borrowing a boat for a month.    I even had to take over being coaching coordinator while living abroad after the previous one had given me hassle. It’s draining stuff and at no point did the committee minute any criticism of the people who were hassling me or thanks for me.  In normal committees or workplaces the person taking hassle would get supported and thanked but here I was just expected to accept it because we’re British and we don’t like confrontation.

I returned last summer from a year living abroad to find the club was running smoothly (with me filling in various bits) and all was well.  Except the hut custodian had stopped hut custodianing as happens with volunteers.  One day I came in and there had been some mystery boats put in the boathouse.  Looking around there were several others that weren’t accounted for.  We have limited spaces in the boathouse so this means spaces used by club boats get taken away, spaces which could be used for private boats get taken by others without asking, boats go in unsafe locations and boats end up outside the boathouse which attracts crime.  I then spent 6 months repeatedly notifying the committee and the people who had dumped the boats they needed shifted and nothing happened.  Eventually we did get a proposal from Mick the commodore to deal with it by continuing to do nothing.  I didn’t see that as an option, it’s unfair on the rest of the club and I had people asking me if they could store boats and I had to say they couldn’t because others have just taken spaces without asking.  One of the boat owners asked for my lawyers details claiming I’d damaged his boat and threatened to sue me which was a lie.  Eventually I said I wasn’t doing committee duties for the moment and eventually the committee agreed to send a letter to this one boat owner to tell him to remove the boat.  He didn’t do this for over a month during which he started writing cheeky notices in the diary.

In normal situations when you have rules and they get ignored the person gets some penalty, if they threaten you with legal action they get told to go away but none of this happened because we’re nice and don’t like a fuss and I should just put up with it.  So I proposed a motion for the AGM to document it and require an explanation and apology from the people who had ignored our rules, cheated us out of unpaid fees or threatened us with legal action.  But the committee made up some further rules to say they wouldn’t take the motions at the AGM.  So I flounced out.  Or minced, I like to think.

It’s an amateur sports club so it’s not terribly important, but after putting in so much energy I’m burnt out from getting no support from the committee back.  Making up rules to aid people who cheat the rules rather than support volunteers is just bad management.  The club will continue to flourish, I even managed to find people to fill all the empty roles on the committee this year except my own and I like everyone on the committee now.  I’ll find something else to spend my energy on, should be fun.