News from Jamaica Pond

 By Ali Maas

Nestled between three highways and an ocean of urban sprawl lays Jamaica

Pond. My entire life I have driven past Jamaica Pond and for years, I sat in my car,

saw a flash of white sails, and wished to be on the water. All I knew of the pond

was tiny moments speckling my life. This year many young Bostonians just

entering Swim Sail Science, Summer Learning Project, and Summer Youth

Program, and I discovered the vastness of Jamaica Pond. Led by veteran pond

travelers of summers past, we discovered the draw of Turtle Island and its

incredible ability to act as the perfect mark in any wind condition. We discovered

where the wind dies, and where the wind strengthens. Our ability as sailors

intensified as winds shifted ninety degrees and when winds died, we mastered

pointed drifting. The pond is never still. It is constantly in flux and forever

testing ones skill as a sailor to adapt. On any given day, one can see a little

turtlehead peeping from the surface.


The pond alone could make any summer job great but what makes this the

greatest summer job is truly the students. The only sad day I have had this

summer was this past Friday when I had to say goodbye to the students I have

spent the last four weeks teaching. Seeing two Swim Sail Science students who

came as best friends leave with fifteen new friends. Remembering when one such

student led his own chalk talk and each of his classmates jumped to lead their

own. Watching three Summer Youth Program students who had never sailed

alone tack on the whistle in perfect synchronization while skippering their own

periwinkle( a small wooden sailboat). Wiping glitter off the counters from

Thursday Race medals (coined the Jamaica Pond Cup) the Summer Learning

Project students begged to race in each week. What made me smile most that

Friday was hearing one student proclaim that he wanted to sail in college one day

just like me. I told him I would tune in to ESPN to watch him in nationals.


Sometimes it can be hard to remember why we sail. When its thirty

degrees outside and I’m sitting in the eighth hour of racing, gusts of thirty

nipping at my cheeks, I can forget why it is I sail. Now, all I have to do is

remember that little kid, soaked from capsize drills, so in love with sailing that he

gave up a week of baseball camp to come back, telling me he wanted to sail just

like me. I am so lucky to have been able to teach him, to see so many students fall

in love with sailing just as I once did. Most of all, I will always have the reminder

of my younger self, looking out the car window at Jamaica Pond, wanting only to