A scheme for volunteer instructors at Scaling Dam Sailing Club in North Yorkshire has provided a boost for training, skills development and membership growth.
The Scaling Dam Instructor Academy encourages volunteers at the club to help out with running courses in return for ‘credits’ which can then be spent in a variety of ways, including on training for their own personal progression, membership fees or watersports kits.
It provides a reward scheme for members giving their time to support the club’s training programme and enables them to develop their own skills and qualifications.
The club is an RYA Recognised Training Centre and offers courses for sailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding and kayaking. The Instructor Academy was launched in 2021 to help the club respond to a growing number of enquiries about watersports training.
Phil Dickinson, Scaling Dam SC’s Club Development Officer and Senior Instructor, said: “We’ve had a lot of interest in training and we want to be able to meet that demand because courses are an important income stream for the club and help us to recruit and retain members.
“We were short of people with the right skills to deliver courses and set up the Instructor Academy. It started off as a volunteer reward project two years ago to encourage our existing instructors to help out more often, by offering credits they could put towards their membership renewals.
“We then wanted the scheme to enable more people to gain instructor qualifications as well and so when volunteers now earn credits, they can also put them towards training courses.”
How It Works
By helping out with the delivery of training courses or sessions, volunteers earn a ‘credit’ with a pre-set value, based on the session they are helping with or the level of their qualification.
For example: a competent paddler or sailor could earn a £20 credit per ‘intro to SUP/kayak’ or ‘try sailing’ session; an RYA Assistant Dinghy/Windsurf Instructor £40/day or £20/half day; and an RYA Dinghy/Windsurf/Powerboat Instructor, £50/day or £25/half day.
Volunteers may go into ‘debt’ by undertaking training courses prior to having earned any credit, as long as they commit to then put the time in to pay back the value that they have received.
Rewards can only be earned within the club’s Training Programme, where the costs are covered by the course fees paid by participants. Rewards are not available for people helping out with any other activities, such as youth and junior sessions, socials or normal club duties.
Scaling Dam SC has 20 RYA Dinghy Instructors, 8 Senior Instructors and 11 Assistant Instructors. Out of these 39 people, 11 different people got involved in the Instructor Academy in 2021, giving between half a day to four days each.
While Phil delivers some courses as a paid member of staff, in 2021 the club’s dinghy courses alone saw its volunteer Instructors and Assistant Instructors contributing 19.5 days, earning £975 in credits, some of which were applied as membership discounts, or kept/used towards personal training courses.
For young people at the club in particular, the Instructor Academy has provided an affordable and accessible way of undertaking courses. The club has a busy youth and junior section and an active group of teenagers who help out as Assistant Instructors, and are now able to continue to develop their skills.
Three Assistant Instructors have used credits towards Powerboat Level 2, First Aid, Seamanship Skills and personal sailing skills training, plus RYA Dinghy Instructor pre-entry sailing assessments.
Adult volunteer instructors meanwhile have welcomed the recognition the scheme gives to their volunteering, although their main motivation remains that they give their time because they find it rewarding.
Phil adds: “Our two main SUP instructors ran so many sessions that their credits far exceeded their membership renewals - but they didn’t want anything else other than their free membership renewals, an example that a lot of people help out because they want to, not necessarily for the money.”
To find out more, visit Scaling Dam Sailing Club Instructor Academy.