Margaret Bonds Podlich
4 | BoatU.S. Magazine DECEMBER 2013
LAST JUNE, WE DECIDED to practice what we preach at BoatU.S. and organized
a “Go Boating” event for our headquarters staff at a local Potomac River marina
in Alexandria, Virginia. We’re a company that’s all about boating, so we wanted
to celebrate and spread that enthusiasm. While there are loads of boaters in our
ranks, we have some folks who aren’t, and so we had no way of knowing how
our event would go. Would the non-boaters be excited to learn? Would people bring their
families? With 20 languages spoken in our office, would our diversified workforce get into it?
Everyone has busy lives; would folks get themselves to the marina on a summer work night,
just to “mess about in boats” with their co-workers? I hoped so.
Working with our HR team, we created an evening that brought together some of our
staff’s powerboats and kayaks, and we borrowed sturdy Flying Scot sailboats. On land,
BoatU.S. Foundation staff gave out life jackets, and there were sandwiches, knot-tying demos,
navigation lessons, and casting practice. TowBoatU.S. Potomac Marine even brought a red
towboat! With initial preparations made, we sent an email out to our staff, and I held my
breath. Slowly, the first emails arrived: “Go out on boats? Seriously? I’m there!” and “Can I
bring my kids?” and “I can’t wait to learn how to drive a boat!” Then, the emails flooded in.
That June evening, with unusually pleasant weather and 5-10 knots of breeze, we had
a few dozen volunteers running boats and
education stations, handing out water, and
more than 150 people joined us to go boating! We saw lots of kids and spouses we’d
never met, and even three generations in at
least one family. There were loads of smiles,
and a terrific vibe.
Our volunteer skippers, who had hundreds of years of experience among them,
later told me how fun it was to see people
taking the helm for the first time, or to watch
the surprise in a newbie’s eyes as they realized they were making that boat go, or to see
a child discover they’re pretty darn good at
casting a fishing rod. It was especially rewarding to see new bonds created between people
from different departments who really hadn’t known each other before that day. Some participants conquered fears or erased impressions made years ago by a bad boating experience.
Then there were folks who’d never been on a boat before — imagine! — energized about the
family recreation they were just discovering.
This joy of boating is one that you and I are lucky enough to know quite well. One of my
2014 resolutions is to make sure I spread that gift around, and I hope you will too, with your
families, your friends, and your co-workers. I guarantee you’ll get back more than you give.
Happy New Year to you and your family!
SHARING THE LOVE
BoatU.S.’s Elio Betty coaches Carole, an
excited skipper-to-be, on the Potomac.
VOLUME XIX, No. 6, DECEMBER 2013
©BoatU.S. Magazine (ISSN 1090-1272) Published bimonthly
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BOATU. S. PRESIDEN T
Margaret Bonds Podlich
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