By Randy Vance of BoatingLife Magazine
There's no sure-fire way to make sure your children grow up just right. I think my parents -- and a few of my friends -- would point to me as evidence of that.
But, having grown up a boater, and having many close friends who are boaters, it has always seemed to me that families who boat have a better time with life than those who golfed or beached it or bummed it. I've seen kids who couldn't otherwise talk to their parents over dinner strike up a conversation over two rags and a can of fiberglass wax. Parents who couldn't instill enough responsibility in their kids to get them to park their bike suddenly find delegating the responsibility of docking the boat -- or heck, just dropping the anchor -- a lynchpin in turning the tide toward making their namesakes productive citizens.
It seemed the coolest kids I met growing up hung around boats, water-ski clubs and marinas. Maybe it was just having a common quest with adults. Perhaps it was the coolness of boats bridged the gap with them. Whatever it was, every Monday they came to school with better tales of their weekends and seemed to enjoy school more than those who didn't boat.
Does enjoying this one activity intensely help people enjoy other activities more? To eye unpleasant tasks with less loathing. Maybe it's just that when families set aside time specifically for boating, leaving home and chores behind, the act of committing to recreation for a finite period actually does refresh and revitalize the ability to attack responsibilities with more enthusiasm -- and better results.
My theories about why boaters and their kids seem more hooked up with life are not proven, but a recent survey by Impulse Research Corp. leaves no doubt that boating kids get ahead faster. If your kids are boaters, the survey indicates they're getting a head start over nonboaters in many important developmental characteristics. They are more likely to be outgoing, leaders, physically active, healthy, happy and demonstrate a more responsible nature.
If it were possible to put that into pill form, would you bet your kids would swallow it? Not on your life. But parents who boat find their kids eager participants. Which leads to some additional and startling benefits of the game.
Kids who boat spend an average of one hour per week more quality time with their parents than nonboaters -- even in the winter months.
If you're hoping your kid will be a Heisman Trophy winner someday, the survey shows boating kids are much more involved in other sports than nonboaters. And here's the real kicker: Even though they spend more time in recreational pursuits, academically they fare as well as other kids. Your boater may graduate from high school with honors!
What else do boaters do better? They're 18 percent more likely to participate in household chores, 13 percent more likely to help with cooking, 10 percent more likely to help with gardening and 5 percent more likely to have a paying job. In fact, boating kids were more likely to participate in all of 30 different daily activities, except one -- watching TV. On average, boating kids regularly participate in 8 activities, compared with only 4 to 5 activities for non-boating kids.
I've always been sold on boating. With this evidence, you should be too. Concerned about the cost of getting in? Maybe you should read ''The Price Is Right.''