an adaption from the AGM
What a year it has been. Despite the dreaded Delta, we have achieved so much.
Starting out one year ago as a committee of twenty-strong, we met up, set goals, and made plans. Ambitious and a bit naive, though our hearts were in the right place.
Before 2020 had closed, we competed and celebrated at yet another successful Club Champs. The event saw 35 attendees, 28 competitors and 16 total novices 'get amongst it'. We had Squids before Squid Game, a fleet of Donald Trumps, Roadies, Didymo Busters, Mystery Inc., Power Puff Girls, Neanderthals, and the Sarah's. Races were raced, prizes were won, and we afforded a VUCCer the best prize of all; a minor trip to the hospital. Ronan left without stitches, but still sports a nice little scar to remember us by.
We even managed to send twenty-two beginners down the Rangitaiki before heading off on our summer adventures. A big ngā mihi to the organisers and instructors involved. We then made our presence known at the 'Xmas at Kaituna' and the 'Wairoa Extreme Race' and brought home a few podium places. Thank you to everyone that attended, we look forward to seeing an even greater turnout at future events.
Then, it was time to prep for the 'Big Three' (Fulljames, Mohaka and Aniwhenua). Before Semester One had kicked off, we held two instructor training weekends and a 'Rescue 3' course. We put emotional safety on the agenda and discussed how we can keep our members physically safe, and help them to feel safe too. Thank you to James Judd, Aaron Smith, Josh Bougen and Isaac Teng for providing these opportunities, and to Lily Woodbury and Toni Schollum for securing the rescue course grant.
A short, sharp burst of Covid shifted our O-Week online, though the annual Puhoi Float and Toga Party allowed us to properly welcome new members into the fold. Thanks to Louise Piggin and Daisy Nicholas for organising, and to the incredible hosts at Duke Street flat.
And just like that, we were back in the Pool. Many first rolls were marked with the sound of spontaneous and infectious cheering. Oversized skirts meant rolling heavy boats, and foot pegs were a luxury. On one occasion, a missing pool booking meant retiring early to the pub. Nevertheless, these times were priceless. A big thank you to our pool officers Raewyn Selby, Dave Hocking, Anna Parsons, and to the instructors who show up each week striving for better methods of teaching the same skills. Without these people, pool would not be possible.
And who could forget Fulljames? Joined by members of VUCC, our annual migration to the Waikato River offered a fun introduction to whitewater, and a good dose of debauchery under the big top tent. We sent our 120 attendees home, and then said goodbye to AUCC’s number one fan and Fulljames-fanatic, Alex Kulpin, who left us for the Middle East. Thank you to Lydia Tomic, Toni Schollum and all of the volunteers for putting on a great weekend.
Our beginner-friendly trips down the Mohaka, Aniwhenua and Tarawera in May and August were an absolute hit. We played a strange chicken game, sang around the guitar, tried table traverses, attempted acroyoga, got a bit too loud during board games, and met some wonderful people.
We also saw consistent ~1:1 ratios of beginners to instructors, allowing them to push their abilities like never before. Corey took Isaac’s place as dislocated shoulder of the year, but sounds to be healing up well. We had enough instructors to raft Jeff’s Joy, take seconders down midsection and the beginners down the G2 simultaneously. Thank you to every instructor and raft guide who made this happen.
Just when we thought we’d gotten away with it, Covid popped in to remind us that we’re still living through a pandemic. One minute we were hearing about a single community case, and now we’re here, months later; the suckers stuck in Auckland. Best of luck to the incoming committee, may you win the ongoing battle of AUCC trips vs Covid.
Difficulties aside, being your President for this last year has been an incredible experience. I have laughed, I have cried, and I have learnt more than I would have ever expected.
On my walk home from Toga earlier this year, I spoke with a friend about the club's ability to change lives, and the areas in which we could improve. I had recently realised just how hard making those tweaks would be, and I was feeling frustrated. To paraphrase that friend, 'the difference you make is slow to show, and hard to see until you look back, but you must keep trying'. And that is why, despite the hard work, the chaos, and unexpected challenges, we continue to push on.
Every time we host a trip, we provide an opportunity for friendship, joy, personal growth and everlasting memories. Every time we are kind and welcoming, we provide fuel to help someone through rough waters (literally and figuratively). We are making the world a better place, one kind-hearted whitewater enthusiast at a time. So, please celebrate yourselves for the small steps. Whether you made it to every event or none, worked hard or just had fun, you are AUCC and we would be nothing without you. Thank you.
To the incoming committee, be patient and forgiving. Chase those big goals, but don’t feel ashamed if you fall short. Covid and cancelled plans may be disappointing, but stay inspired. Don’t take life too seriously, and please don’t forget to have fun.