The world’s largest paid-circulation magazine, Reader’s Digest, recently published a paddling safety story written as part of the Water Sports Foundation program Lessons for Life: Accidents as Learning Experiences. The WSF content director Jeff Moag wrote the article, “Nightmare on Lake Superior,” which was first published in Men’s Journal and Paddling magazine.
Lessons for Life uses stories and videos about true-life incidents to promote boating and paddling safety. The story Reader’s Digest published was about three friends whose paddling adventure on Lake Superior turned into a life-threatening ordeal when a sudden storm caught them off-guard. All three men capsized and became separated in the squall. Moag’s story describes each paddler’s harrowing experience, describing both how they got into the potentially deadly situation, and how they managed to survive.
"At the WSF we believe that good storytelling is the best and most memorable way to share life-saving safety advice."
- Jeff Moag
Reader’s Digest Global Rights Manager Thomas Dombrowolski said, “Each month, Reader’s Digest publishes a ‘Drama in Real Life’ column. It is one of our longest running features and a reader favorite. We typically commission these features ourselves, but when we came across the Lake Superior story, we thought it was perfect the way it is.” The story was republished in the June 2022 Reader’s Digest, reaching more than 40 million subscribers in 70 countries. “It’s an honor to have my work picked up by the world’s largest subscription magazine, especially since it validates the premise of our Lessons for Life program,” Moag said. “At the WSF we believe that good storytelling is the best and most memorable way to share life-saving safety advice.”
Since 2017, the WSF has published 22 Lessons for Life narratives and 15 videos, in cooperation with 13 major enthusiast titles. The goal is to engage readers in the story and use the narrative to show the audience how to stay safe and incident-free in their own boating and paddling adventures.
Other WSF Lessons for Life stories have also gone viral, including “Heroic Rescue at Destin Pass,” about a family whose boat capsized in strong currents. The 4-minute video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times on various platforms. All of the Lessons for Life stories and videos are archived on the WSF website, WaterSportsFoundation.com.
The Water Sports Foundation is the non-profit educational arm of the Water Sports Industry Association which represents more than 500 corporate members. Since 2011, the Water Sports Foundation has been a U.S Coast Guard non-profit grant recipient. The Lessons for Life: Accidents as Learning Experiences project contracted Moag to produce real-life stories distributed to boaters as educational material. The project has been highly successful capped by the recent honors bestowed by Reader’s Digest. The Water Sports Foundation is a U.S. Coast Guard recreational boating safety outreach partner and is currently managing seven outreach grant projects each promoting safer boating and paddling to specific U.S. targeted audiences.