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By Allison McGuirk and Martin Weissgerber

A few weeks ago, I had a front row seat to hands-down the greatest show I have ever seen: the step 1/  2 talent show.  We had been cooped up in the big tent all day because of torrential rain and lightning, so our step leaders decided that it would be a great idea to see what talents or skills our kids possessed. In my experience, it can be like pulling teeth to get kids to open up enough to show you a talent or a skill, and some of these kids had only been together for 2 full days at this point, so I figured that only a few of the most extroverted kids would use the 10 short minutes that we gave them to put together a routine; however, I was completely wrong.  All but around 5 of the kids participated in the talent show with acts that varied from opera singing to a scottish jig to gymnastics to regular singing to tying a knot while planking while reciting the ABCs.  I was literally shocked to see that some of our shyest and smallest kids were willing to get up in front of a group of 10 instructors and 30 of their peers to perform raw, unrehearsed, and sometimes ridiculous talents.  As I helped give out prizes to all of the kids who participated right after the talent show (some stylish sunglasses), I realized that this talent show really epitomized the Courageous experience.  Courageous is a place where everyone is quirky, and everyone's quirks are valued.  Every kid knew that his or her audience would be receptive and supportive of whatever he or she wanted to share, and that is what made the talent show so special.  This environment is one that allows kids from all different backgrounds and of all different personality types to take risks and to be who they are.  This is the atmosphere that helped me to grow into a confident sailor and young adult, and I am so proud to work here helping kids to gain confidence in themselves every day. – Allison McGuirk

On the first Wednesday of the first session it was pouring rain and thundering. Due to the latter, we could not go out sailing. Step 1, under the command of Emily Gaylord, decided to orchestrate a talent show. As kids signed up I read the list and saw a boy names Isaiah had signed up to sing ‘God Bless America.’ I thought it was him trying to be funny, yet when he took the stage, I was amazed. He broke into an opera voice, rendering the audience into a stunned disbelief. It was amazing to see a child have the courage to stand up in front of kids he had known for only three days, and put his heart into a song. I love Step 1 because the kids are too young to feel self-conscious. They do what they want and always amaze their fellow campers and instructors. – Martin Weissgerber

By Shamus Connelly

As an older kid at an after school program when I was in fifth grade, I was told to be a good example for the other children. If I was messing around they would tell me that I needed to be a good role model, that the younger students looked up to and copied me. As an ten year old boy I thought this was ridiculous. However, as an IIT at Courageous I have found this to be very true. It amazes me how after only minutes of working with new campers both instructor and students have built a relationship. I love to see the kids requesting a certain instructor or finding such satisfaction in just saying "HI!" to their favorite IIT. It makes me happy that we can be so important and influential in their learning.

I was really inspired to write about this yesterday when I visited my friend's house and saw his ten year old brother, a camper from last session, who is a role model himself by the standards of my old after school. I heard him yell my name and turned around to a gleaming face and a big hug. Spending time with him brought me back to our time at Courageous. And you can call us instructors role models but these little kids have made a positive influence in my life as well. I cherish how we've all grown through our experiences at Courageous. It only takes a fist bump from an SSS camper or a request from a step 2 student to be their instructor for me to see how we instructors have such a big influence on the children and to find pride in our role during their time as a camper. Even my fellow IIT Brandon and I, through our struggles as possible future 3rd year IITs, have had a positive role in the growth and experiences of these campers. This connection has encouraged me to be a better person and has made me proud to be at Courageous Sailing.