Our organization started as a simple vision in 2001 to establish a youth and family-oriented organization that promotes the use and appreciation of our community’s waterways. The foundation was to create a non-profit community sailing and aquatics center was laid and an advisory board was formed comprising of corporate leaders, community leaders, and boating enthusiasts. The intention of this advisory board was to create a program that would educate, engage and inspire area youth and their families to build a lifelong relationship with the great waterways in our community.
Green Bay Sail & Paddle, Inc. was formed on April 1, 2016, by a group of individuals with a vision to create opportunities for everyone of all means and abilities to safely enjoy sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and other water sports on the bay of Green Bay. They realized that we have a vast recreational resource in our backyard where people can fish, sail, kayak, and boat yet many people, from children to adults, have had little or no opportunity to enjoy this wonderful body of water. Historically, the waterfront area in the City of Green Bay has been dedicated to industrial use. This has limited access to our great waterfront areas for many years.
With this vision our founders partnered with International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh ("IYSO") in 2016 and offered a one (1) week program session held at South Bay Marina. Our founders wanted to see if given the opportunity would people come and boy did they ever. Through community organizations, including the Greater Green Bay YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, the Howe Center, Tech Girls, and the Green Bay Park and Recreation Department, an introduction to sailing was offered to 238 area youth. Many of these participants had never been on the waters of Green Bay let alone sailing. Many participants were nervous and anxious when their class started but everyone came back to shore with big smiles, laughter, and wanting to know if they could come back next year. Our founders realized that if we built a bigger and better program the community would come. From that day forward our program has done nothing but grow.
In 2017 we purchased eight (8) new Hobie ® Wave catamarans and offered 300 hours of programming Monday - Thursday throughout the summer. A total of 1,237 participants joined on the beach and many of these participants came back for more than one class. Of these 1,237 participants, 69% of them were under 18 years old and 13% of our participants joined us for our Adaptive Programing. 2017 also saw the creation of our Woman's Sailing Series. This program was very well received and we ended up with fully booked classes with many more looking to join in 2018. Through our donors and sponsors, we were able to create a scholarship program where individuals and organizations can apply to receive funds to help pay for the costs of our programming. We never want to have to say no to anyone that wants to participate due to a lack of means. Our scholarship program directly addresses this issue thus enabling us to always be able to say yes! We continued to work with community organizations and were able to offer programming for ASPIRO, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, COMSA, Curative Connections, Full Circle, Green Bay Area Public Schools, PALS, Scouts, Special Olympians, and Syble Hopp.
In 2018 we added to our fleet of boats. Thanks to our gracious donors and sponsors we were able to purchase a new 17 foot Boston Whaler which we primarily used as a safety and media boat. We also purchased a 15 foot Boston Whaler which we primarily used as a coaching boat. In September we were given the opportunity to donate our time, staff, and safety boat to SEAS in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which was a host to the 2018 Para World Sailing Championships. We couldn't have been more honored and humbled to just be a small part of a hugely successful weekend of professional sailing by sailors who don't let their physical or cognitive limitations stop them from doing what they love. Our women's program grew bigger, better, and stronger. We shortened our seven (7) week session to five (5) weeks, however, this allowed us to add a second session for a total of ten (10) weeks of women's sailing this summer. As predicted the woman's series was a huge success and many participants returned from the 2017 season to grow and become even better sailors. Our Boy Scout Merit Badge day also grew in popularity. We had scouts come from as far away as Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana to participate in our program.
We are super excited to see where we can take our program in the coming years. Green Bay Sail & Paddle is an organization that connects the Greater Green Bay Community with the largest freshwater tributary in the world through sailing and paddle sports. Our main focus is to create lifelong educational experiences and greater quality-of-life opportunities for youth and adults of our community by partnering with community organizations and school districts, as well as individuals and families.
We would love to have you be a part of our program either as a participant or as a volunteer. We look forward to seeing each and every one of you out on the water.