Stand UP

The stand-up paddleboard boxes arrived at our office—approximately 12 feet long and three feet wide—and I realized I had a problem. The worldwide headquarters of Northstar Publishing doesn’t have a traditional loading dock—as in no loading dock. Trucks delivering large items pull up on the shoulder of U.S. Route 42, throw on their hazards and knock on our door.

As I looked into the back of the truck, the driver smiled. “You had no idea how big these actually were, did you?”

“Uh, no.”

“So, what are we doing with them?”

I had no idea, but I knew they couldn’t stay on his truck, so we lowered the first box to the ground and carried it up to the building. We repeated the process with the second box. I went to sign the delivery ticket when I remembered the email I’d received earlier that morning. Basically, I was responsible for ensuring my paddleboards were damage-free before I signed the delivery ticket.

Luckily, the driver was intrigued. He’d seen paddleboards on TV, but never in person. He was more than willing to wait for me to run upstairs, get scissors, return and open both packages to inspect the boards.

As we opened the boxes, I tried my best to answer all the driver’s questions. “Have you ever paddleboarded before?”

“Not really.”

“I hear it’s a good workout. Do you think it’s going to be hard?”

“I hope not.”

“Where are you going to use them?”

“No idea—probably on a lake.”

And so on. Eventually, we determined the boards arrived intact and the driver took off. I backed up my Honda Pilot, threw open the back window, stuffed both boards inside and gave myself the rest of the day off.

I rushed home, boards hanging out the back, to install the fins, grab my wife and kids and head to Lake Medina for a quick session.

It was awesome. The whole experience reminded me so much of my other passion—skiing/snowboarding—that I was hooked immediately. And, luckily, so was my family.

The teenagers loved racing their boards into the wakes of boats and “surfing” them back to shore. I loved leisurely paddling the lake, stopping to sit and dangle feet in the water whenever warranted. And the 9-year-olds? They treated the boards like their personal diving boards or swim platforms—sitting on the front, hands and legs dragging in the water as Mom or Dad paddled them around—jumping off whenever the mood grabbed them.

And, when they were done swimming, they would simply lay back and fall asleep—confident that whoever was paddling would eventually return them to shore.

The magic of water knows no age—and it’s one of the most popular (and expensive) things departments like yours offer their community. To help you make sure the experience is heavy on magic and safety, we’ve dedicated this entire issue to the aquatic experience. Hopefully, you’ll find some ideas that work for you and your staff.

If they do, or if they don’t, let us know about it.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth