By Emily Gaylord

During my many years at Courageous, I have had the pleasure of working with many different children. The one part of Courageous that I have not spent much time with is SwimSailScience (SSS) and Summer Learning Project. This past Wednesday I had an amazing experience with some of the kids from those programs.

Apart from sailing, I have a few other hobbies that I enjoy. One of these is playing the ukulele and singing. Some days I bring my ukulele in to Courageous to play during lunch or before the kids show up. On Wednesday I was playing the ukulele outside the boathouse when I began to notice that I had an audience. Slowly, I saw a few SSS kids gravitate towards the music. I was playing a song that they knew and a few kids started singing with me. Before I knew it, there was a large group surrounding me and singing along.

If you don’t know much about the SSS program, these are mainly kids from the inner city. A lot of these kids are pegged as “bad kids” and “troublemakers,” and Courageous gives them the amazing opportunity to learn sailing. This session was a particularly difficult group of students but they went silent and were fascinated by the music.

This experience showed me that no matter where a kid comes from or what their home or school life is like, they are just like any other child. They are looking for things to learn and always want to have fun. I was reminded of being a kid myself when I saw how happy they were just to be singing and listening to music at sailing camp. 

By Emily Hart

The summer is starting to wind down here at Courageous and this past week was our last with the Summer Learning Project. This week we pulled up the lobster traps to see Asian shore crabs (an invasive species), rock crabs, sea stars, a rock gunnel and our usual friends: blue mussels, barnacles and a variety of tunicates. I love seeing some of our students holding a crab or sea star for the very first time!

This week we also pressed seaweeds; just as you can dry and press flowers, you can also press seaweeds. I was excited to try it with the students and they really enjoyed arranging different types of seaweeds into artistic creations. I found that the easiest to press was sea lettuce because it’s so thin. The students took home their seaweeds to continue the pressing process and I’m excited for them to have reminders of their summer here.

In the process of picking seaweeds for pressing, I discovered one of my favorite activities here at Courageous: laying stomach-down on the dock with my head over the edge, checking out everything living on the side of the dock. Barnacles feeding, seaweeds swaying, mussels filtering water with their siphons, tiny anemones clustered together, and further down, orange sponges. It’s incredible! So next time you’re here to sail, stop on the dock to take a peek over the edge. I promised you’ll be amazed. 

in Green

By Sarah Harkness, SwimSailScience Program Coordinator

One of the things that has stood out to me this summer are the leaps and bounds by which our campers have grown in just three short weeks. One camper has stood out in particular - Eddy.

On the first day of camp Eddy had some serious attitude problems. He wouldn't listen; he would physically remove himself from his group; following directions was extremely difficult. At the end of that Monday I sat down with him on a bench overlooking the water. We talked. I asked him about his day - he said it hadn't been very good. I asked why - he wouldn't answer. After some dead end questioning on my part I asked Eddie if he wanted to be at camp. He looked at me and cautiously nodded his head. I told him I needed him to show me he wanted to be here. That I couldn't help him if he wouldn't talk to me. He still wouldn't respond. I told him to think about it over night and we'd talk in the morning. 

The next day it seemed like Eddy was a different person. He was smiling and happy; ready for the day. However, right after breakfast I found him once again wandering away from his group, unwilling to listen. I immediately pulled him aside and asked him what was going on. He told me he was angry. Once again, I told him that if he didn't tell me why then I couldn't do anything to fix the problem. He finally responded that he was upset that he and his brother were not in the same group. I explained to him that camp was a place to meet new people; if he and his brother were in the same group then they would not branch out and make new friends. He grudgingly accepted my response and agreed that he would talk to me if he was angry or upset.

From that moment forward Eddy started talking to me. He would come to me with his concerns and questions. I would explain or answer and he would go on his way. There was no more straying from the group or blatant disrespect. By the end of camp, Eddy was excited to be here every morning. Joking and laughing and begging to return the second session. He still had problems listening and following directions occasionally but, what 9-yr-old boy doesn't? The point is his anger diminished and it was replaced with joy.

By Claire McKinnon

I have been working at Courageous since I was 15 years old. Instantly I fell in love with working in Step 2. I could write an entire encyclopedia on why I love Step 2 but in the end it all boils down to the students I have the privilege of working with everyday. The kids are all unique as individuals but form a clear Step 2 community for everyone else to see. Each student is kind and wants each other to succeed as much as they want to succeed them selves. This breads a unique kindness and strive for fun and knowledge that creates the Step 2 community.

Having worked in Step 2 for many years now I have seen many kids come, learn, and graduate on to bigger steps. As I walked around this year I came to the exciting and slightly unsettling realization that I have taught a majority of the children in older steps. It fills me with such pride that all of my Step 2 children have moved on and become better sailors. It unsettles me because it draws further attention to my age and that one day I will need to graduate and leave Courageous, like they have left Step 2.

What makes me even happier that they have also kept the same kindness and community, despite being from all over the city with different backgrounds and personalities.As more of my Step 2 kids graduate this year I could only hope they achieve the same experience as all the students who have graduated in the past.

 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

sail.