Anticipation is running high for today’s meeting of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council in Chicago. The council is an important element in the broader unified movement to grow boating in America.
Made up of 30 individuals representing diverse organizations and companies, all with a vested interest in the future of boating, the council is a result of two earlier Growth Summits in which nearly 200 boating stakeholders came together to identify and address growth challenges. The council is the steering committee to coordinate and move forward priority items identified at the Growth Summits.
Under the leadership of chairman Matt Gruhn (Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president), vice chairman Jim Frye (president of the Association of Marina Industries) and secretary Thom Dammrich (president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association), six individual committees were set up a year ago to follow up on the priorities set by the Growth Summit participants. It’s anticipated that today’s meeting will see each committee bring to the table the results of its research, planning, any actions and vision for moving ahead. The committees include:
• The Affordability Committee is identifying issues related to perceptions in the marketplace that boating is or is not affordable.
• The Education Committee is tasked with assessing the existing boating educational opportunities, or lack thereof, and identifying how boating can grow through educational initiatives.
• The Diversity Committee is examining the need and best avenues to make boating attractive to a more diverse population i.e. Latinos, Asian-Americans and African-Americans.
• The Youth Committee is tackling the premise that we must find ways to attract younger participants into boating or we simply won’t see boating grow.
• The Advocacy Committee is studying ways to create a stronger united boating advocacy to gain favorable and fend off unwarranted legislation that will hamper boating growth.
• The Marketing Committee is broad in scope, looking at supporting current efforts to make boating top of mind as a preferred family sport as well as future messaging to sustain boating growth.
There are many ongoing efforts to increase boating, not the least of which is Discover Boating’s “Welcome to the Water” national campaign and the outstanding programs to grow boating and fishing by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. But there are many others, like Sail America’s hands-on sailing experiences and classes nationwide, a U.S. Power Squadron’s pilot program called “Boat Ambassadors” to help wanna-be boaters get started and on-the-water training days by groups like the Recreational Power Boating Association, to note just a few.
The combined efforts of the leadership council can bring together knowledge and cooperation for all who are working to grow boating and be a catalyst for discovering new ideas that can successfully move us down the road. To those ends, we should all be anticipating good things to happen today in Chicago.