The Freedom Boat Club allows members to experience Lake Wallenpaupack without the exorbitant fees of boat ownership.
Instead of plunking down $60,000 for a new boat, members pay a one-time initiation fee of $4,000 to $6,000 and a monthly fee of $300 to $400, depending on the membership perks, and have access to a full fleet of boats.
The fee covers the cost of the boat, storage, maintenance and cleaning.
“We try to make it as convenient as possible, said Dave Viola, owner of the Poconos franchise, based at Lake Wallenpaupack, which had 35 members as of May 19. He said the club picked up five new members in the first two weeks after he took over.
“We have a boat for every six members,” Viola said. “Other than the major holidays, like Memorial Day and Fourth of July, there is no problem getting a boat.”
Clubs have also been adding more members throughout the country.
“The Freedom Boat representative I have is saying membership adoption is way up this year,” Viola said.
The typical member of the club is usually someone just learning how to operate a boat or older boaters who are tired of doing all the maintenance, Viola said. Members have access to fishing boats, waterski boats and pontoon boats, he said.
“Depending on what your mood is that day, you can choose a different boat,” Viola said. “That’s a nice luxury, and the monthly fee is significantly cheaper than the cost of maintaining a boat.”
Members also have access to unlimited training with certified captains and can reserve up to four time slots at once, Viola said.
The local club experienced record growth last year and is already outpacing membership sales this year.
“There has been a bunch of success, unfortunately, due to COVID,” Viola said. “There are supply chain challenges in the industry, so a lot less boats are being manufactured at this time. And I think because people have to be socially distanced, they’re not taking those big Disney-type vacations, they’re looking to spend quality time with family. Boating, in general, has become more popular.”
John Sause, 62, of Milford, has been a member of the club for two years and enjoys the convenience of being able to hop in a boat without having to worry about taking care of it.
“I work six days a week and don’t have a lot of time for the maintenance of it,” he said. “On my day off, I can just go for the afternoon.”
Charles Blouch and his wife, Audrey, of Lords Valley, have been members for about five years and enjoy the tranquility of the lake.
“It’s a nice relaxing day,” Audrey Blouch said. “Sometimes we just sit in the middle of the water.”
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