KIYC – Membership Has Its Privileges

By Sandra Zunino

Surrounded by pristine views of the Chesapeake, the Kent Island Yacht Club (KIYC) is more than just a haven to boaters, it’s also an organization devoted to enhancing the community.

Founded in 1955 as a community club in Harbor View on Cox Creek, the KIYC was incorporated in 1956 and moved to its current location on Kent Narrows’ Buckhorn Peninsula complete with a new clubhouse a year later. The original members officially organized the club to encourage yachting, boating and promote seamanship and navigation.

Unofficially, however, the club was an avenue for members to enjoy social activities as well as sponsor community events to better the lives of area residents, according to Commodore Vince Fares.

“This is not a traditional private club so to speak,” says General Manger Kevin Demas. “There’s a lot of giving back here from the members for the community. It’s a different kind of organization than what most people think of as a private club.”

Surrounded on three sides by water with a full-service marina, full-service clubhouse, full-service catering capabilities, pavilion picnic area and beautifully maintained in-ground pool, KIYC is the perfect venue for special occasions from weddings to turkey shoots. Not only does the club organize and hold soirées such as Super Bowl parties and Valentine’s dances for its members and their guests, it hosts many charitable events such as the Coastal Conservation Association Tie Fest and fishing rodeos.

Charity events must be sponsored by a member and over the years, the club has supported Animal Resource Foundation and the Christmas Adopt-A-Bear program to name a few. Additionally, KIYC allows Queen Anne’s County to use the pool free of charge for summer swimming lessons.

Current membership exceeds 400 and includes members who have been with the club since its inception. Ages range from 30s and up with the average member age at 55. While only members can maintain a boat slip in the marina, many members are non boaters. Members not only have access to the entire facility, they can enjoy reciprocal privileges to other participating clubs.

Activities at KIYC range from formal elegant balls to casual family-friendly picnics and swimming parties. The dock itself has its own little community with boaters embarking on cruises together and holding barbeques on weekends. “There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the members here,” says Commodore Fares. “It’s a big, open environment.”

As with all private clubs, KIYC faces challenges in today’s economy.  “It takes a lot to keep a facility such as this up and running,” says Demas. “It is extremely taxing on the club financially for upkeep, insurance, taxes, etc.”

While it’s challenging to keep the facilities up to members’ expectations, Demas reports that KIYC is in better shape than most private clubs these days. Plans for the future include starting youth sailing classes and increasing the service staff at the facilities.

“Over the years the club had been run by volunteers,” explains Demas. “We are now changing over to a management-style club.” Club officers and management constantly obtain input from the members to ensure the club is meeting their needs.

For more information about the Kent Island Yacht Club, visit www.kiyc.org or call 410-643-4101.

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