FACE IT, GETTING KIDS TO do anything, much less hang around us, is a daunting task. But studies have shown boating, fi shing and watersports are uniquely qualifi ed to break though the generational electronic barrier. Like broccoli, sometimes it’s just a matter of getting them to try it before they decide they like it.
In 2014, pro wakeboarders Zane Schwenk and Shaun Murray decided to do something to get new kids into towed sports and boating by creating the annual Pass the Handle event, held July 24 this year. It’s a grassroots program that consists of boaters acting locally for the global good of watersports. Last year’s day was a huge success, encompassing events in 25 countries, including Kyrgyzstan, which is catty-corner to Mongolia (I had to look). Twenty-one professional watersports pros volunteered their name and assistance to make this a worldwide event that allowed thousands of kids to participate in watersports for the first time. Go to WSIA.net to find out how you can participate.
Another program, Get Kids Hooked On Fishing – Not On Drugs (HOFNOD), is designed to introduce kids, especially those at risk, to fishing. It was developed by Future Fisherman Foundation as part of its Pass it On campaign to show kids how much fun fishing is. Combined with other programs such as Physh Ed, Boys and Girls Club, and Aquatic Educator, it has impacted more than 1 million kids in a positive way.
To help make boating more inclusive, a program called Vamas A Pescar got a $50,000 educational grant to go along with its $125,000 in startup funds in 2014. The outreach program, supported by former President George H.W. Bush, Bass Pro Shops, and the states of Florida and Texas, is designed to get more Hispanics involved in fishing. Currently 17 percent of our population is Hispanic, yet only 7 percent of anglers in the U.S. are Hispanic.
Looking back to when you were a kid, you can probably point to one or more adults who introduced you to water-based fun. Early memories are especially powerful and affect kids their whole lives in a positive way. All of the above organizations are looking for volunteers to help get kids into boating, watersports and fishing. You don’t even need an organization. Make a point this year to invite neighborhood kids and their parents to go boating with you, to show them how much fun it is. If you have kids, encourage them to bring along friends. We need future generations to be involved in boating, watersports and fishing, not only to give us a greater communal voice, but to help create citizens who care about the environment. Because if future generations aren’t on the water, chances are they probably won’t care about it.
CORRECTION: In our May 2016 issue, we listed the incorrect URL for Golden Boat Lifts on page 57. The correct URL is goldenboatlifts.com.