As the end of my first summer working at Courageous comes to an end, I am rewarded with a collection of great memories and many firsts. Each day I sail with different kids in a different boat working on different sailing skills.
One of my most rewarding days as a Courageous Sailing instructor came earlier in the summer. It was a very windy day, making it even more important that the kids are fully invested. In the beginning of the day, I noticed that the group in my boat had a bit of trouble working together. In a Rhodes 19, there are a couple different jobs that are crucial to sail the boat effectively. The two people tending to the job, the navigator, and the skipper make up a real team that counts on each other. I then told this to my boat group and stressed the importance of their cooperation. As the day went on, the kids tried different positions on the boat and gained confidence as they saw their ability to do something when the stakes are raised. At this point, I stepped back and gave them more control of the boat, causing them to see that they needed each other to all do their job in order to keep the boat sailing. At the end of the day, we all brought our boats into the dock and began the process of de-rigging the boats. Similarly to being asked to clean your room, kids rarely want to put away the boats. However, after seeing how important it was to work together on the water, the group kept the same attitude, and began the process without any complaints. At one point, one of the kids had an opportunity to leave and avoid having to help. Instead he looked at me and said, “I can’t leave until my job is done.” In the end, they were astonished with the results of their teamwork on and off the water.
It is moments like these that make it easy to see how unique and amazing Courageous Sailing is. I came in with the idea that it was a Youth Program completely surrounded around sailing and learned that it is so much more. At Courageous, every kid is learning lessons through the process of building sailing skills. In the two months that I have worked at this great place, I cant say enough how lucky I am to work at such a special place. -Thomas