Why do we do what we do? Are the sights and sounds of a safe harbour engrained in our DNA? Is it the rush of adrenaline as we scramble for our GO bags when the call goes out? Could it be the love of the water and a chance to grasp a few hours on the waves bouncing along in a bumpy sea? Or is it the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a world we might have previously turned our back on in times of need? Who knows and perhaps, as I expect, for each of us it’s our own personal cocktail of reasons. I know for me it’s an eclectic mix and for our other members, well I can only guess.
Each year, as the season gets underway, there is always a sprinkling of new members who are then dispersed across our seasoned crews to make up the numbers reduced during the off-season. I can remember, looking back, at the time I was that rookie joining a crew for the first time. It’s a big step and yet all of our new members who have successfully made that leap have quickly become a familiar face amongst a group of veterans. And this got me to thinking? What is it that makes this transition so seemingly simple? We all have our own personal reasons for joining and yet a bond forms as if these friendships have been years in the making. Do you remember starting a new job? It can take days, even weeks, to feel even remotely part of the team. In our environment the transition seems to take a matter of hours. What is the secret here that we cannot unlock when the timeclock is ticking? Is it the role we play in search and rescue? Is it a common desire to help those in need? Could it be a bond between volunteers? Or is it something simple as a love of the water?
So many questions and yet so few answers but then maybe that’s the key? If you ask me it transcends these simple bonds. A casual glance at a PARA photo would reveal a real mix. We have young members and older members, office workers, medical professionals and students and so many other career choices. Are we surprised, no not at all; in fact we encourage and always appreciate our diverse membership. They give us the strength to not only succeed but to continually grow and improve with new approaches and innovative ideas. PARA turns 50 this year and while I have not been a member for all those years, I am confident in saying that each year we have strived to be a better reflection of the year before. What drives that? New blood, new ideas, fresh approaches and new pioneering thinking that seems to be the magical formula.
Yet despite all that something needs to light the fuse to ignite this synergy. And that is the key that at first glance seems undecipherable but in reality is so simple. It’s not built over years and years of time and effort, it’s a simple hello when you first step on board, a friendly smile as you do something that seemed so complex for the very first time, a congrats and a pat on the back for your first docking or radio check-in. It’s not about the diversity; it’s about the commonality we all share. In a party of 1,000 people would our 50 members gravitate to each other, likely not. But I know when I am on the water with a crew, regardless of who is there; I know that I am among friends, colleagues and most importantly equals. Its what makes us so successful. We ask a lot but we hope we return the favour with friendships that transcend generations and will last a lifetime.
So as we start the 2017 season, we want to thanks our members and perhaps more importantly, their families. We appreciate what you do and honestly cannot thank you enough. We can only hope that a day of intense training intermingled with a few laughs make it all worthwhile. The season awaits and I for one look forward to a summer amongst friends…