I hope this finds you well and thinking about kites. Here is the latest from the AKA.
Thanks to the efforts and insight of AKA Secretary Sherri Pigeon, we are now having informal Board chats once a month. Our conferencing system has virtually unlimited use, so we are using it. Once a month the Board gathers and just tosses ideas around. No agenda, no Robert’s Rules, just talk about what works and what doesn’t and getting to know one another better. All Board meetings are open to all AKA Members and so are these Chats. Information on how to participate is on the AKA web site.
Coming soon: Town Hall Meetings.
The AKA has a teleconferencing system that allows up to 100 people on a call. As soon as we can get practiced up on Moderating and Hand-Raising, we will try a Town Hall Meeting for as many members who want to play. Keep watching your Inbox for an announcement.
One of the quandaries for the Board this time every year is to set the Registration Fee for Convention. It is a bit of a shell game in that there are many fixed costs associated putting on Convention. Those fixed costs are divided by the number of people anticipated to attend and that is the Registration Fee. If we guess right, the Convention breaks even. If we guess high on the number of people attending, the Registration Fee is lower, but if the number of people who register is fewer than that number, the Convention loses money. If we guess too low, the Registration Fee is too high, and even fewer people attend because the Registration Fee is too high.
We live in uncertain times. This year’s Convention could well have the lowest attendance since 9/11. The AKA is taking the unprecedented step of asking its Members if they plan to attend Convention. An e-mail was sent to the Membership. As of this writing, there have been 778 responses to that e-mail. Out of 2,350 households, that is 33%, a pretty good response. But it is still 1,572 households not heard from.
Convention is October 6 thru 10, 2009 in Rochester, Minnesota. If you plan on being there, and you want the lowest possible Registration Fee, let us know you will be there. E-mail me and I will add you to the list of folks who plan to attend. Tell your friends. This is your chance to have a direct influence in determining the Registration Fee for Convention.
What is Convention?
Most AKA Members have never been to a Convention. Describing a Convention is difficult at best. Describing any one part of it is tough enough. But let’s make an attempt.
Convention is a Five-Day Party:
Yes, it is. It is a five-day celebration of kite flying and kite flyers. It is rubbing shoulders and getting to meet people who had previously only been names and pictures in magazines. It is wonderful to discover that they are as excited about meeting us as we are about meeting them. I have also heard Convention described as a five-day Power Lunch. This is the place to meet the Movers and Shakers.
Every morning of Convention there are a half-dozen or so workshops to choose from. There are usually two sessions per morning in three different rooms. The hardest part is choosing which workshop to attend!
Monday night there is an in-gathering, a get-together where folks can meet and greet and renew acquaintances or make new ones. Tuesday morning there is a Board Meeting, the last meeting of the existing Board before the new Board comes in to being on Wednesday night. All Members are welcome at this Board Meeting, but they usually opt to stay in bed or go to a workshop. Wednesday night is the Annual Business Meeting. Every AKA Member at Convention should be there. Usually we get about 10% of Convention attendees. This is where decisions are made and votes are taken. Anyone interested in helping to steer the AKA should be there. Friday Night is the Banquet and Auction. Saturday Nightis a banquet and Awards Night.
Every day of Convention at about noon there is a flying free-for-all, a Mass Ascension of a certain type of kite. Everyone gets together in one field and flies a Delta, or a Cellular, or a Sport (don’t ask!), or a Soft, etc. People who show up and fly kites are awarded pins for each day. At the end of Convention, all five pins fit together to make a shape.
It seems whenever a group of people get together there can be a competition. Convention is no exception. There is an Indoor Flying competition. It is something to behold! The fliers want the air as still as possible and they fly very efficient kites indoors, and compete doing it! There is a Pin Challenge for those who collect kite pins. Yes, someone has to have the most, or the greatest variety. There is Comprehensive Competition, otherwise known as best homemade kite. This is where the National Grand Champion Kite is chosen. There is also the Nationals for Sport Kite Competitors. Competition in the Nationals is by invitation only. People fly in competitions all year long to qualify to be invited to the AKA Nationals.
While all this is going on in the afternoons, some people just find a piece of real estate and hang out a talk and fly, swap ideas, and make new long lasting friendships.
Back in the day, one of the things I always had trouble getting a straight answer from the AKA about was insurance. As an Event Organizer, I questioned the fees for sanctioning and insurance. I was told that the fees didn’t cover what the insurance cost. So I would ask how that worked, whether the event coverage was a rider on top of the other coverage. I never got a straight answer.
So, here is the straight answer. The AKA pays $25,500 for the insurance policy. In a good year, the AKA takes in about $6,000 in Sanctioning (insurance) fees. That means that we have a shortfall, a cost, an overhead, of $19,500. In a perfect world, sanctioning fees would cover the cost of the insurance. Either many more Event Organizers need to sanction their events, or sanctioning fees need to be raised to come closer to covering AKA’s cost of insurance. This insurance coverage is vital. Many kite festivals across the country cannot exist without it.
Back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the earth and dual-line kites ruled the kite fields, only advanced and brave dual-line fliers attempted to fly those new-fangled Quad Line Kites. But these days, thanks to the efforts of I-Quad, there are many people out there for whom a Quad Line Kite is their first sport kite experience. It is time to have a Novice Multi-Line discipline at competitions including the Nationals. Novice Class is less about the skill level of the competitor than it is about introducing the competitor to the requirements and procedure of competition.
How will introducing a new discipline work? First, Leagues and individual Events need to offer it. People need to compete in it. There need to be enough competitors involved from each AKA Conference to justify adding Novice Multi-Line to the Nationals. The threshold number has usually been five competitors per conference.
Drawbacks and downsides: Right out of the chute, there are those on the Board who say if a Discipline is added to Nationals, a Discipline needs to be dropped to make room for it. For the record, I would go with the opinion of the Chief Judge of the Nationals, since they are the one responsible for making the schedule work. Another issue is sponsorship of the trophies for the event. That is already handled. Ben Dantonio has offered to sponsor trophies for Novice Multi-Line. That leaves only one problem. It is one more award in one more category to be handed out during a long night of awards.
Bottom line, Novice Multi-Line is not a done deal yet. By all means, contact your Regional Director and bend their ear if you would like to see Novice Multi-Line offered at Nationals. It is late in this season, but it could be added to Nationals if enough people qualify.
Thanks for listening. See you out there somewhere.