When you think of lawn bowling, the image that often comes to mind is a group of elders dressed in white having a good time at their local club.
While seniors still love the game, the greens are attracting a fresh and fashionable younger generation, driven to have fun all while doing good.
Imagine 80-plus young professionals gathered at the downtown location of the Kelowna Lawn Bowling Club — all clad in sundresses and suspenders, ditching their shoes to feel the grass between their toes, sipping on cocktails from a past unknown and rolling some bowls on manicured greens.
This is the scene painted by one of the On The Lawn organizers, Fiona McGregor.
“Both Daylin (Mantyka) and I wanted to put on an event where we could give back to our community,” said McGregor. “We’ve both lawn bowled in other countries like Australia and New Zealand, where young people would flock to the greens for an afternoon beer and bowl in the sun. We thought it would be a perfect fundraiser for Kelowna.”
On The Lawn is a charity lawn bowling social event that happens over three consecutive Thursdays, starting July 30, and is aimed at young professionals in the Okanagan. This year, all proceeds go to Elevation Outdoors, a Kelowna-based charity that supports at-risk youth so they can participate in outdoor sports such as mountain biking or snowboarding.
“We were thrilled when Fiona and Daylin approached us to be the beneficiary for this new event,” said Mike Greer, executive director of Elevation Outdoors. “The exposure this provides will help raise awareness of our programs and introduce us to some possible new volunteers. Their fundraising efforts will certainly help with our program development as well.”
The Kelowna Lawn Bowling Club couldn’t be happier to have a younger generation take to the game. With an average membership age between 45 and 65, the youthful demographic will help keep the club alive. This year has been the club’s best for third-party events catered towards a younger crowd. It has played host to groups such as the Kelowna Jaycees, FH&P Lawyers, teachers and now the largest group with On The Lawn and Elevation Outdoors.
Past president Alan Stirling, 59, says that the younger crowd is “what we need. . . . It’s a joy for me to see that. It’s long overdue.”
Stirling, once a competitive bowler in Scotland, emphasizes that lawn bowling wasn’t always seen as an old person’s sport.
All competitiveness aside, Stirling believes it’s the social aspect of the game that needs a fresh face; it’s events like On The Lawn or Pork and Bowls (Kelowna Jaycees) that really help to change the game’s image.
On The Lawn participant Dave McInerney can’t wait for the event to get underway.
“Kelowna has a vibrant young professionals community who are community minded and socially aware,” he said. “The opportunity to combine a social experience with a fantastic cause will always be a hit with this demographic.”