Chesapeake Women Anglers is a club that has membership concentrating in the Washington D.C. to Baltimore area with members up to Philadelphia and beyond. The club was started around seven years ago by Sarah Gardener and Carol Stevenson, two accomplished women in the sport. The club has consistently been a place where women who want to get started in fly fishing can come and get lots of advice and support and then have a network of fishing buddies to fish with.
Every year we have at least one clinic for beginners that goes over equipment, casting, insects, etc. This year we meet regularly once a month for casting practice and fishing on a stream that is easily negotiated. I think this "Second Saturday" event helps folks plan and gets people out that we might not see otherwise - something about the predictable time and place makes it easier for folks to plan into their schedules. We also have trips planned throughout the year. Usually there is a core group of people that meet early in the calendar year and plans the upcoming trips for the entire season. Individuals who are familiar with a certain stream will "host" a trip - handle all of the information distribution and logistics. We don't charge anything for trips unless there are fees associated with the trip itself. These pre-planned trips are augmented later by more casual get togethers that grow out of the connections and friendships made via the club.
This leads me to a very important factor in the club's success .......... COMMUNICATION. And isn't communication the foundation of success for any relationship between humans? A good newsletter is mailed quarterly. Donna Dove puts it together for us.
Other important forms of communication:
- A directory of club members with addresses and phone #s and e-mail (distributed to members - ask on membership form for permission to list such info in the directory). It is compiled both alphabetically and by geographic area (so folks can identify local potential fishing partners). This directory really facilitates the strengthening of friendships and the club as a whole.
- A newer mode of communication that was instituted by our brilliant new president - mass e-mail. Norma Kawecki (the brilliant one) sends out regular notices of trips, pertinent info including safety information, etc. It makes a lot of sense.
- We have planned a telephone tree, too. I really think that sometimes the one little thing that is needed for some folks is the pleading of a human voice, "Aw, Come on. Come fishin' with us this weekend - it'll be fun." And that gets them out for the first time and after that they are "hooked" because we really do have so much fun.
If I were held to just a few sentences of advice I'd boil it down to: Spread the leadership and tasks around - makes for more ideas and less burnout. Think about how you connect the members and how the members connect with the broader community of women fly fishers and the general ff community - put some energy into creating a communication system that works for you. Don't be afraid to let the character of the club change as it needs to - be flexible. Support women in the sport.... and men who support women in the sport. Join IWFF and other organizations - they provide such a base of knowledge and information. Educate anyone and everyone about conservation issues. Most of all... have fun!
Chesapeake Women Anglers
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