School just let out on a warm sunny spring day. A group of students are sitting on the steps considering options to occupy the afternoon. “Let’s cruise the mall and food court”; “Let’s go play a video game at Joe’s house”; “Let’s watch TV on Amanda’s new 60 in plasma” ; or just maybe, “Let’s head on down to the community boating center and sail for a couple hours, take a kayak for a paddle, or just fish from the dock.”
The National Youth Marine Alliance is 31 organizations strong and growing every month. Collectively the Alliance organizations represent the program materials and services that are urgently needed at the community level. Our message is simple: Let’s get more kids out on the water. Swim, fish, boat, explore an estuary, or visit the aquarium. I invite you to share the common mission of promoting all opportunities and help local programs build participation by exciting kids about fun on the water. When kids get hooked on the Blue Lifestyle, families follow. I truly believe that once a youngster finds the water, all roads will eventually lead to a boat.
In the coming months the NYMA will reach out and bring between 7,000 and 10,000 community based programs on-board as part of the GoBlue4Kids Network. This will allow more kids to connect with a program in their local area and give the national organizations a better method to get program materials to community-based efforts such as fishing and boating programs, recreation departments, after school programs, summer camps, and more. Along with all of the NYMA partner organizations, I have set a goal of attracting 1/4 million new, first-time participants each year. We will grow participation one child at a time!
The NYMA is a positive factor for all the marine industries. The future of boating, fishing, sailing, and water sports programs depends on our ability to attract and keep the next generation. This network development program is the key, but we can’t do it without you. The cost of building the national network is substantial. Each site must be individually contacted, verified, and entered into the system. This is a labor-intensive project, but when completed, it will serve the industry, organizations, and the public in ways we have never seen before.
I know that the economy has all of us feeling like we have a huge weight on our shoulders. I am personally asking you to help with a small investment to make this effort a reality. Every single dollar we commit to this effort will impact how, or even if, our kids get connected with the water. A day will come when the skies clear and the future of recreation on the water is even brighter. Let’s be prepared to bring the next generation of boaters on-board.