By Karl Sodergren.
The first encounter with TVCC that I recall was spring Canoe School circa 1974. Base camp was Quinn Springs Camp ground and may have been in conjunction with TSRA.
TVCC Canoe school was the official function name until mid to late nineties. I had been treasurer around then but was just on the board. I’m pretty sure Katie was involved as an officer then as we deliberated this change. The club was more or less half kayakers at this point. I was a butt boater and canoeist including decked C1 but was under the opinion that the term “canoe school” was understood to be encompassing but was out voted and knew it was a minor issue.
A few years prior I was helper to the newsletter editor who was inadvertently tasked with cracking the whip on trip leaders to schedule something… anything…. At the time the cruise master(s) tended to be a hair boater. It was then I proposed cruise masters for class 1 and 2; 3 and 4. The first official overnighter cruise master was none other than John Alden. We also instituted a non-paddling category for the first time of which I volunteered and self-appointed to be the first cruise master. I led the first sanctioned non-paddling event which was a ski trip to Beech MT, NC. Attendees included my father, Jan Sodergren, Jean (founding member), Paul Shoun, Brian (don’t recall a last name but he was our token snowboarder), and a few others.
I digress, John led the Buffalo trip annually. I was lucky enough to attend one year. He ran into a family conflict a year or two and Kent Ovetbeck filled in. One year John organized a trip to the Rio Grande. It was my college spring break so I was fortunate enough to attend. We alternated nights camping in Big Bend/Texas and Mexico. One day we had head wind. Behind schedule we ended up camping on a scrubby island at the bottom of a river gorge/canyon. It was obvious this island did not exist after the most moderate of rain events so I didn’t sleep as I just knew this wind storm would bring rain. That night as I was on guard it occurred to me that the rule was the deepest channel of the river was the official US/Mexico border. I did not know what country we spent the night. It was a weeklong trip to remember including goat herders, buyer beer from Mexican ranchers, buying out a small cantina (one room Adobe hut) supply of Mexican beer. A natural hot spring, etc. Earnie (?) who was a member and is now deceased was on that trip. He was a teacher and owned a canoe rental company on the Duck River in Middle Tennessee.
I digress further. By 1989, 90 or 91 the club had practically disappeared. A lady named Susan (I think) made phone calls to encourage people to attend meetings. I seem to recall a few at a Mexican Restaurant on Hwy 58 (likely Cancun). The meeting attendance grew over time because of her and others efforts. Canoe Schools were based camped at Gee Creek. TVCC and/or TSRA bought green blue hole canoes for the Hiawassee rangers as a service project and a peace offering. We were a bit of a mess with beer and alcohol contraband consumption at Gee Creek. It was early nineties we moved to Hiawassee Outfitters to alleviate the problem.
A historical controversy arose circa 94. As treasurer, I recognized a potential financial short fall. Steve Gibbon was our AVP in charge of Paddle/Canoe School. That spring involved a severe drought and the Hiawassee had no water to teach our beginners on. My co instructor was Jim Ledbetter. We of course went to Parkville Lake the first day. The second day we took them to the Lower Tellico. Other groups went to the Cartecay, Nantahala, etc. The free-flowing rivers were sparse. What I pointed out was that had the drought been much worse we may not have had a paddle school. Without paddle school, there is no auction. Those two events were well more than half our income which subsidized the newsletter. The dues made up less than half yet our single largest expense and only means of communication was the newsletter. Postage had increased several times of late and again the next year when Steve Gibbon, our new President, proposed $5 dues increase to balance the budget. To that point and to my knowledge that was the second dues increase. Originally it was $10, then 15 and then of course 20. A small minority quit the club in loud protest. It was then decided that extra monies in the good years would purchase insurance via ACA for the first time. Also, contributions were made to various related water/river organizations for the first time.
My drivel ends here… at least for now 🙂