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Together – The family in the boat

The summer is tapering down. August is the last month; then, schools start back from the summer break. Plenty of weekends left before it gets cold, but the summer weekday morning sets unfortunately disappear (enter frowny-face emoji here). One great thing about August is that there usually is still a wakeboard/surf clinic at the local marinas that could help you finish the summer with some new skills and a trick or two.
An added bonus is that all the stores on the lake usually run summer-end clearance sales, and if you’ve been eyeballing a particular new board, you could probably pick it up for a nice little discount with some time left to enjoy it on the water.
Given all the rain we have had this season, the lake is still operating at full pool, which is really nice. Hopefully, if the fall extension water levels lock in, we’ll have more water for a longer season.
I have the honor of working with lots of families with all ages of kids and adults learning to ride. Unquestionably, surfing has taken the market by storm since 2013.
When I get to step back and bear witness to what’s happening and listen to what parents of surfing kids are telling me, one thing has stuck out more and more, and it makes me so proud to play any part in it.
It’s the family unit, spending time together, doing something together, having fun together.
The wake boats get ridiculed for a lot of things, but you can’t slight the sport for this. The sport is bringing families together to make long-lasting memories on the lake. I hear it often: ‘when we went from whatever pontoon or runabout into the “wake boat,” our whole family started all going out together. The kids always want to go out. They want to bring their friends, and we are out in the boat all day.’
We on the industry side literally see the hours logged on the boat as proof; time on the water nearly doubles in some cases but averages about 30-50 hours more per season for a family in a wake boat.
Now I’ve definitely made known my dislike of tubes, but even they have their place in this whole phenomenon. They, too, bring plenty of smiles and laughs, and that’s what it’s all about. He (or she) who has the most fun wins!
I will elaborate on my preference of actually riding something like a wakeboard over being pulled on a tube, and to me, this is hugely important. I will caveat this and say tubing kids is fine, given that it is along with riding a ski, a wakeboard or a surfboard – whatever – but the key words are along with, not instead of. I cannot count the number of kids – and this is all ages – but I’d say particularly with pre-teens that get an enormous sense of accomplishment by learning to ride.
Anybody can lie on a tube and get pulled behind a boat. This is far from the case when it comes to the sense of accomplishment children get when they ride up out of the water and begin the progression of any water sport. Not everyone can or has the opportunity to do it.
I have seen the kids that you wouldn’t think were going to be able to get up, come out of the water on the first pull and ride.
Lots of times, they get better quickly, when an even more athletic kid in the boat doesn’t, and the change in the attitude and outlook of that child is like something you can’t even describe.
These children know they have done something special, and everyone else in the boat knows it, too. They know it, and they take this pride back into their lives. When they go back to school with their peers, they have a sense of accomplishment to thrive on it and get better at it.
I’d say that alone has been one of the biggest factors for me to keep coaching, keep writing and being a part of this industry. I may or may not learn a new trick on my board this year. If I do, it’s fun, and I’m super stoked, but it doesn’t compare with what I see when a child comes out of the water for the first time.
In the last week, I had two students that had never even been pulled out of the water on anything, but in three pulls, they surfed without the rope, and I was more excited about that than the last trick I learned myself.
The look on their faces is priceless; the sound of their voices back in the boat, talking about it, is not the same as when they first hopped into the water.
And to see parents watching their child, their most prized possession in the world, get up on a ride and to hear their excitement; I don’t even have the words.
As a parent myself, I know how exciting and emotional it is, and sometimes I’m really glad I have sunglasses on.
Keep riding. Hope to see you on the water.