The Chilliwack Curling Club has partnered with a university to help boost its membership.
The Elder College is part of the University of the Fraser Valley and it targets learners over the age of 55.
New curlers can pay $35 for six weeks of one-and-a-half-hour lessons at the club.
Bruce Renwick, Club Manager, is facilitating the program. He said it had led to more people joining the club’s leagues.
He explained that he paid club helpers $2 per hour in “club bucks” to work with the new curlers.
He said: “I have based the program on a condensed version of the ‘Adult Getting Started in Curling’ program developed by Earle Morris on the Curling Canada site.”
Fourteen learners started in the first semester, with nine completing it. All nine joined at least one league with six joining multiple leagues.
Bruce added: “This semester we have 22 and all have come to the two weeks so far. I really stressed the push stick for those that can’t slide — I am sure that is where we lost the ones in the first semester.
“We plan to run our own one and a half hour 55 plus lessons at the start of next season for five mornings straight, putting the money in the club. That way the students will have the opportunity to start curling right away instead of waiting until after the Christmas break.”
Marketing has been key to the success of the initiative.
“We did run a newspaper ad for 55-plus curlers this time before the course started and received numerous calls from that with the obvious increase in students the net result. It was expensive, but if we get 15-20 new curlers we will more than make up for it in league dues, pro shop sales, kitchen and bar sales. Sometimes you have to look past the nickels to see the dimes! It is definitely a target market worth pursuing.”
Bruce expects he will have 15 to 20 new daytime curlers next fall as a result of the course.
The partnership will continue next season, with Chilliwack Curling Club having already committed to running a Fall semester for the Elder College.
To see available courses at the Elder College, visit http://www.ufv.ca/eldercollege/courses/.