A new study from Take Me Fishing and Discover Boating uncovers a wellness deficit in America as recreational activities begin reopening amid improving public health conditions. Based on the findings, the two outdoor recreation organizations are launching their summer-long Get On Board campaign this National Fishing and Boating Week (NFBW), June 5 through 13, to help Americans from all walks of life fill their wellness deficits by experiencing the benefits of the outdoors firsthand.
Research shows that simply getting outside or being near water lowers stress and anxiety. With help from mental health changemaker Dr. Jessica Clemons and a fleet of social media influencers, Get On Board will encourage, uplift and inspire Americans with its message that The Water Is Open to Everyone.
"With health clubs, sports leagues, summer camps and more on pause last year, many of us found ourselves missing the activities we once depended on to sustain our wellness — and as a result, we accumulated a wellness deficit," said Stephanie Vatalaro, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and its Take Me Fishing brand. "To fill our wellness deficits, many of us turned to outdoor recreational activities like fishing and boating as ways to recreate responsibly during the pandemic. Our goal now is to help everyone experience the healing power of nature."
According to a new online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults by The Harris Poll, most Americans agree that participating in outdoor recreation is good for both mental (89%) and physical (89%) wellbeing. And while many (70%) do see people like themselves in outdoor recreation events, social media, advertising, etc., filling America's wellness deficit may begin with inviting a more diverse population to experience the outdoors. More than 4 in 10 (43%) would be more likely to participate in outdoor activities if they saw more examples of people like themselves in the outdoor recreation industry.
"Being on, near or around water is one of the best ways to refresh and reset your mind, giving you the freedom to explore and escape stress on land," said Ellen Bradley, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications and Chief Brand Officer for the National Marine Manufacturers Association and its Discover Boating initiative. "The water is having a renaissance as more Americans discover fishing and boating as ways to relax and spend quality time with friends and family. In fact, demand for new boats has surged, with sales reaching a 13-year high in 2020 — and that's just the beginning. Get On Board is designed to be a welcome call to relax, explore and connect with loved ones in a way that can only be experienced on the water."
To help raise awareness about the wellness benefits anyone can experience outdoors and on the water, the campaign will enlist the help of acclaimed mental health expert Dr. Jessica Clemons, known for her @askdrjess social media platform. Heralded as 'the internet's favorite psychiatrist,' Dr. Clemons uses her social influence to encourage everyone to prioritize their wellness and practice self-care.
"Without a conscious effort, it's easy to put your mental health on autopilot," Dr. Clemons said. "Exploring new wellness-sustaining activities like fishing and boating is a great way to refill the wellness deficit you may be in following last year's shutdowns. This is especially true for people who don't have previous fishing and boating experience. Learning new skills promotes a sense of accomplishment and getting out of your routine can help you get in touch with your friends, your family and yourself."
As suggested by the study, individuals' likelihood of trying new outdoor activities often depends on first seeing people they identify with in those activities. Based on that finding, Get On Board is deploying a fleet of social media influencers. Coming from a broad range of backgrounds, through their social influence they will encourage Americans from all walks of life to fill their wellness deficits and have fun this summer by experiencing the benefits of nature.
"Before you can be your best self on the water, you need to see your best self on the water," said Jenny Anderson through her Instagram account @girlof10000lakes. "The outdoors community has lots of people you might not expect, and we're sharing our stories using #TheWaterIsOpen. Joining us is as simple as using the hashtag yourself while enjoying nature. We want everyone to experience the wellness benefits of the outdoors, and an easy way to start is by showcasing the breadth of the outdoors community."
Get On Board is accompanied by a variety of programs developed on behalf of the fishing and boating industries. Vamos A Pescar™ is RBFF's Hispanic outreach initiative, which provides Spanish-language fishing and boating 'how to' and 'where to' information, along with critical funding to community programs nationwide through the George H. W. Bush Vamos A Pescar™ Education Fund. Women Making Waves is RBFF's social media movement to increase female visibility in fishing. Additional initiatives from RBFF include the Stories of Mentors and I Am an Angler campaigns. Through spotlighting the experiences of unexpected fishing and boating participants, RBFF and NMMA are committed to supporting the next generation in fishing and boating.
Anyone can celebrate NFBW and experience the wellness benefits of the outdoors by getting started in fishing and boating. An easy way for newcomers to test the water is by participating in their state's Free Fishing Days when standard fishing license requirements are waived. Those interested in exploring boating can try it out through boat rentals, peer-to-peer sharing and boat clubs.
Visit TakeMeFishing.org for beginner how-to tips, interactive water-access maps, and more. Go to DiscoverBoating.com for how to get started in boating, stress-busting benefits of boating and more. Visitors can also use the websites to purchase a fishing license or register a boat, which help provide critical funding for the conservation programs that preserve our waterways for future generations to enjoy.