Rebecca Inver

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Written by Step 4 Assistant Leader, Ian Hay

Today I regained my faith in adolescents’ possession of common sense. The day was intolerably muggy and boat assignments seemed dubious as I watched my students tack deep close reach to deep close reach up out of the Mystic. We had already narrowly escaped a minor uprising after I instructed the student at the helm to bear off sharply while passing under the Tobin so as to not cross beneath the falling stream of an ironworker mid-relief in the netting above. The plan for the day was to race PHRF-style out to G13 around R10 back to G13 and finish at the Tobin. 42.10:52 read my stopwatch as we passed G13 for the first time. Awesome.

“Who wants to learn how to heave-to?”

Lobstah swayed idly along as we waited for the J-22 to round the first mark. We finally spotted them off of Piers Park and decided to de-heave ourselves and go have a chat.

 “So guys what side of this harbor are green marks on?”  “We were trying to find our lay line.” “I take it you’re still looking for it?” “……When are we going in for lunch?”

The chat wasn’t having quite the effect I had hoped for so I instructed the other boat to at least round 13 and then we could head in together for an anchored lunch in the nook. Suddenly the wind came up and I watched something that looked oddly similar to a mainsheet block erupt out of the cockpit of the 22 heading straight for its mate at the boom.

“IAAANNNN! The mainsheet thing is broookeennnn!”

Funny that, maybe they (the blocks) got lonely being so far apart on an upwind leg. I instructed the student at the helm to go into safety and search for the missing pin and ringding. Hailing the Foredeck I prayed my kids would be able to fix it on their own. Sure enough, seconds after my fingers released from the VHF call button I saw the 22 ripping along at an over-trimmed broad reach, the blocks were chatting up a storm but from a kosher distance.

They (the students) had fixed their mainsheet before I even had to think about getting onto their boat. It may seem a small victory for step 4 cruising but it was a victory nonetheless. Today my students showed me that though they may act more like sea cucumbers during chalk talks than human children they can step up and fix a problem during stressful situations without being taught how to fix it in advance. And that put a smile on my face.      

By Emily Hart, 2014 Environmental Education Program Coordinator:

I’m excited for my first summer at Courageous as the Environmental Education Program Coordinator. We’ve had a great first week!

We have two initiatives this summer to encourage staff and students to take positive actions on environmental issues: Meatless Monday and Waste-Free Wednesday. On Mondays, students in each step will receive one point for a lunch without beef, pork, poultry or fish, and on Wednesdays, students will receive one point for a lunch that produces zero waste (reusable containers, real silverware, cloth napkin, lunchbox or canvas bag). Waste and pollution from livestock production contributes to global climate change and damages ocean ecosystems, so we’re excited to help students learn how they can make small changes that have big impacts on their own health and the health of the oceans. Waste-Free Wednesday is in its second summer and it’s great to continue the conversation on how trash from land ends up in the ocean.

This week in the summer youth sailing school, we talked about crustaceans and jellies! We played crab tag and Invasive Species Web of Life to learn more about how the invasive Asian shore crab is affecting ecosystems here in Boston Harbor. In the Summer Learning Program, we explored the simple machines on sailboats, made windmills and used energy from the sun to cook s’mores in solar ovens! Imagine smiling faces and sticky chocolate fingers. I’m excited to work with the Instructors in Training (IITs) to give them a broad base in environmental issues (this week we learned about waste!) and to develop a related service-learning project over the coming weeks. 

in Green
The Wallace Foundation Summer Learning Demonstration: Boston Public Schools/Boston After School and Beyond

This year, the Courageous Summer Youth Program participated in the Summer Learning Project (SLP) for the second year.  This program is part of a national study to help reduce summer learning loss and Courageous is lucky to be part of a great network of other nonprofits in Boston. Organizations currently participating in SLP include: Tenacity, Thompson Island Outward Bound, Ponkapoag Outdoor Center, Hale Reservation, YMCA Boston, and Boys and Girls Club Boston.

SLP works with rising 4th graders from Boston Public Schools who are identified as being at risk for summer learning loss.  Throughout the five-week program, students study at school in the morning, then join us at our sailing center in Charlestown or Jamaica Pond.  While at the sailing center with us, students learn marine biology in an experiential, hands-on setting before heading out on the water on one of our Rhodes 19 sailboats.  Through investigation based learning, the students explore a range of scientific topics including life cycles, aquatic ecosystems, and damage caused by environmental pollution and oil spills.  Each lesson includes a literary component as well as an engaging activity that employs our surroundings as a living classroom.

The students that participate in our program have been selected because assessments identify them as being in a vulnerable population, academically. For many of our kids, factors including learning challenges, language barriers and behavioral control, significantly impede their access to comprehending and engaging with new material. Unfortunately, these students can eventually become very discouraged by repeated attempts to make progress. Often, they come to internalize this condition, and may even give up trying at all. 

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This Saturday we hosted a Halloween-themed Open House at the JP boathouse for Summer Youth Program students, families, and staff.

It was a gorgeous day on the pond with bright sunshine, a strong breeze, and beautiful autumn colors. Many families joined us, decked out in the finest Halloween costumes, and sailed, rowed, painted pumpkins, ate too much candy, and celebrated the fall season with other Youth Program participants and staff.

Thank you to the JP boathouse staff, the excellent instructors who took us sailing, and to the families and young sailors who joined us!

From now until the Summer Youth Program officially begins in June, we will be hosting many events from career building skills for our Instructors in Training to family activities in communities around Boston to fundraising events to help us continue to offer great summer programming. Keep an eye out for our e-mails, Facebook and blog posts, Tweets advertising for more Open Houses and other Summer Youth Program events in the upcoming months.

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On Wednesday, October 23, Courageous staff, members, and friends all gathered at Boston Sail Loft for a great Cocktails for Courageous event.  Over 100 people attended and it was a heartwarming way to spend a blustery evening.  As usual, we had great food donated by Boston Sail Loft and wonderful raffle prizes from Top of the Hub, Skywalk, Hoistaway Sailbags, and Tip Tap Room.

 

We want to truly thank everyone in the Boston sailing community who attended on Wednesday for your support, both financial and otherwise, and your camaraderie. Again, we want to thank Boston Sail Loft, Top of the Hub, Skywalk, Hoisaway Sailbags, and Tip Tap Room for your donations.  From all of us here at Courageous, thank you very much and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

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