The Pitch for Sailing Summer Camp

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 06:38AM - Comments: (9)

Opti sailors in Sarasota set out for another day of fun on the water.

This summer tens of thousands of children will take their first sail, with a friend or alone in their own little boat. No adults. Just a coach, or a counselor, and maybe their assistants—a couple of local teens. They will sail away from the WiFi connection, the YouTube videos, and the remote control. Away from the countless distractions along the path to becoming an adult.

Each day the pattern repeats, rig the boat, set out, de-rig. Each sail a little takes them further than the one before.

So You Need Convincing?

Perhaps you are on the fence this summer. The drive is too far, the cost too high, or the child says, “It doesn’t sound like much fun.” There are a million reasons to encourage your child (or grandchild) to sail this summer. Here are a few that I like.

  1. “You get to sail your own boat.” Independence. To take responsibility for one’s actions one has to first recognize them as your own. There’s no question who is trimming the sails or steering your boat. It’s a twist on the Spiderman motto: with great freedom comes great responsibility.
  2. “You get to be out on the water.” Immersion in nature. A number of studies have demonstrated how water lifts spirits, and even improves mental and physical health. Mastering a small boat heightens an awareness of the forces of nature, and nourishes the notion that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.
  3. “You will make new friends.” Connectedness with other people. In a two-person dinghy, the sailing partner is more than just a teammate.  Over time, the feedback loop between trimmer and helmsman creates its own nervous system, a sensory-motor pathway in which two people can move as one.
  4. “You will learn something new.” This is a tough sell, especially in summer. But most kids recognize that mastering a new skill—defeating the next boss, as they say—produces its own special thrill.
  5. “You will have fun.” This is almost guaranteed, although the enjoyment factor rests on how capably the staff at the camp or sailing school fosters an environment of learning and growth. At this level, failure should be a friend—not something to avoid or be feared, but something to be accepted as part of the game. Where's the game—or the fun—if there's no risk?

Apart from choosing the right fit for our kid, a parent can't exert much control over what comes next (another possible selling point). A lot can depend on the weather. The experience of the kid who spends the week hunting for wind is quite different from that of one who enjoys five days of brisk and wet reaches. In the ideal world, a squall will cause minor mayhem on the last day—a capsizes, mad bailing, a lost baseball cap—a bit of adventure to spice up the finale.

Sailing Gear for Kids

If you’re looking for kids sailing gear this summer, we’ve tested a wide range of equipment designed especially for kids: “Testing a Deckvest Made for Children” (see PS July 2017), “Sailing Gear for Kids” (PS July 2016), “Kid’s Life Jackets for Active Sailors,” (PS June 2013), “Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance Sailing Dinghies” (PS August 2011), “Practical Sailor Tests a Ruggedly Built Safety Harness and Tether” (PS September 2009), “Making the Best Toddler Life Jacket with Harness,” (PS June 2007), and “Safety Gear for Kids,” (PS July 2006), “Infant Toddler PFDs,” PS October 2006).

Summer Camp Recommendations

If you have a sailing camp to recommend or one that left you with a lasting impression, let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us a practicalsailor@belvoir.com. 

Comments (9)

Junior Sailing Camp at the Nyack Boat Club

Best in the Hudson Valley for sure!

Posted by: gcmiddle67 | May 25, 2018 9:36 AM    Report this comment

My father was the first to delve into his interest in sailing; starting us out with a 12' Kolibri that we threw on the roof of our car (with difficulty) and drove out to sail on nearby lakes and once on the ocean off Kennebunk. I was hooked. We quickly moved up to a 22' and then a 30'. But my passion took off after a few weeks at sailing camp in my early teens. Rewarding times I will never forget. For a great sailing school/summer camp experience in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, look up the Nepean Sailing Club. Cheers!

Posted by: Evan | May 25, 2018 7:46 AM    Report this comment

Regatta Point Community Sailing in Worcester, MA has wonderful sailing camp as well as a full array of adult sailing programs. They are a non profit who's mission is to give the opportunity to learn to sail and be comfortable on the water to as many children from the inner city as possible through scholarships. Their motto: Boating for all!

Posted by: Keepcalmsailon | May 25, 2018 5:02 AM    Report this comment

CF Sailing School at the Canadian Forces Sailing Association in Esquimalt British Columbia Canada. Great location for learning. In a real Navy harbour! Awesome, fun team. A super fun time for the kids (and adults...). (The Training Officer, sailor and dad of a sailor. But I'm completely impartial!)

Posted by: MerryDancer | May 24, 2018 10:58 PM    Report this comment

Great reminder. Great way for clubs to do outreach to the public and potentially increase their membership....get the kids and the parents will follow.

Posted by: bobr | May 24, 2018 1:44 PM    Report this comment

The Palm Beach Sailing Club in West Palm Beach, Florida has an excellent sailing camp for kids. I am not involved with this aspect of our club, but the parents I talk to generally start small with a half day camp for the week and end up going all day for weeks. The kids love the camp. What I see and hear from parents is their kids not only develop sailing skills but a unique sense of independence and confidence. I wish I could have attended a sailing camp when I was a kid.

Posted by: CaptMDG | May 24, 2018 1:31 PM    Report this comment

Great article, thanks!

Posted by: Bill Heintz | May 24, 2018 10:22 AM    Report this comment

Sailing camp helped cement a lifelong love of boats for me and that was about sixty years ago.

The most fun thing about sailing camp in those days was sailing the little plywood prams into the prop wash of the big Coast Guard Grumman Albatross as they taxied out the channel to take off. You'd either go really fast or go over. Guess kids today won't get to do that, but still a lot of fun to be had.

Posted by: HopCar | May 24, 2018 10:11 AM    Report this comment

It would be great to have a listing of sailing camps for kids/young adults. Even better if it included reviews and recommendations.

Posted by: PipeDream | May 24, 2018 9:48 AM    Report this comment

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