Saturday, March 21, 2015

HOW’s Paddle to Excellence

The National Office of Heroes on the Water (HOW) is kicking up the program of taking warriors on the water in a kayak and going fishing with local volunteers in a HOW Chapter. For 2015 the HOW National Office will be rolling out four new chapters to be alpha testers of the new program that will have new tools for entering various reports on HOW Chapter Reports and a Training Portal as well for new and existing chapters.

The Lowcountry Kayak Anglers (LKA) club has been pushing to have a HOW Chapter along the east coast of South Carolina. This became a reality when I received notification to attend the 2015 Paddle to Excellence conference at Camp Blanding just SW of Jacksonville, FL in March 20 – 22, 2015. Besides the proposed new method for reporting and the training portal; Leadership shared what ‘Paddle to Excellence’ is.

The presented ‘Paddle to Excellence’ program lays out the plan for new and current chapters to achieve four levels at this time. Some of the existing chapters are currently at Phase 2, 3, or 4 graded on their maturity in the eyes of the HOW National. Going forward a new chapter will have to work through the four phases. I will try to explain the time period at each level but overall to get to Phase 4 this can take up to 18 months. This is very aggressive and the National HOW office recognizes this and understands that some chapters might be happy at Phase 2 or some chapters could use the plan as a 5-year plan to get to Phase 4. The most important part of the chapters is to provide a program for our warriors.

To achieve Phase 1 a chapter needs to plan at least three events in a season with four warriors per event. The HOW Chapter will need to raise $2500 for their budget and have a leadership team of 2 – 3 people. The leadership team will need to complete the Phase 1 on-board training. 

Phase 2 consists of a chapter hitting targets that are slightly more aggressive. To plan and host six events that will serve at least six veterans and raise a few more dollars for the chapter budget. The first tier training module needs to be completed.

Phase 3 the chapter is conducting nine events during their fishing season serving at least eight warriors per event.  It is at this time the leadership team needs to be around 3 – 4 people. The chapter needs to be close to being self-sustaining in maintaining a budget. The second tier training module needs to be completed when entering Phase 3.

Phase 4 is where the chapter has a self-sustaining budget, conducting 12 events for the fishing season that is taking ten veterans out fishing in kayaks. The leadership team consists of four people and all the training modules completed.

While the growth plan is for a HOW Chapter to reach Phase 4 this brings the chapter in alignment with the overall National goal in providing quality experiences to the warriors and serving 100,000 veterans. The other goal for the National Headquarters is to have at a minimum one HOW Chapter in every State.  The most important thing the ‘Paddle to Excellence’ program accomplishes is that all HOW Chapters will be consist on how they do their business. The training will provide the guidance on how to do business using the best practices from the current Phase 4 HOW Chapters.

Interested in starting a HOW Chapter in your local area or through your kayak fishing club contact HOW National at to submit your information and interested in kicking off a chapter.

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