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I asked all of the Youth Program staff to write blog posts for me that show what Courageous means to them and/or about a story that embodies their time at Courageous. I feel it is only fair for me to do the same…

I came to Courageous in 2011 after calling Kate, the Youth Program Director, and asking if she was interested in hiring an Environmental Educator. She enthusiastically said yes. So in 2011 I started as the Step Green Program Coordinator, took a hiatus in 2012, then returned in 2013 as the Courageously Green Environmental Education Program Director- a continuation of the Step Green program. From there, I moved on to become the Youth Program Outreach Coordinator where I assisted the Youth Program in all aspects including hiring staff for the summer of 2014, finding at-risk Boston Public School students for the SwimSailScience program, and helping with program design, organization, and public relations.

Even with all of those titles and responsibilities, Courageous meant more to me than just a job. Courageous is a place where I learned, under the guidance of the Youth Program Director and Executive Director, how to become a fair, respected, and kindhearted leader. Courageous is a place where I honed my strengths in multitasking and delegation. I will always remember my time at Courageous as more than just working at a sailing center, but as a place where I made a community and witnessed one of the strongest, most sincere, hardest working non-profit organizations in the community sailing world.

Over the three years I have worked here, I have held the hand of a fearful little girl from Dorchester and helped her conquer her fear of sailing, inspired instructors to study Environmental Studies in their college careers, and hopefully acted as a role model for how to be a successful woman in the sailing and science communities. This is what Courageous really is- a spot where one can both be inspired and be an inspiration.  

And the sailing instructors and educators that I worked with at Courageous this summer are truly inspiring. They all care so deeply about the mission of our work and about changing lives by encouraging and teaching a passion for sailing. I will miss all of their random stories at the end of the day, their laughs about the weird activities that I plan, and their insightful questions about recycling and the environment.

As I move across the country and say goodbye to Courageous, I have no concerns about the future of this wonderful nonprofit. The leadership, instructors, and sailing students will keep this place thriving for years and years to come. In the end, I have to thank the two people who could never possibly understand how much what they do matters. Kate, the current Youth Program Director, is hands-down one of the hardest working people I have ever met. I will forever wonder at how she does so much, juggles so many boats, personnel, grants, and other various details. Kate has been an exceptional mentor, teaching me how to let go of the things that don’t matter and how to be passionate about the things that do matter- such as giving urban youth the opportunity to experience sailing and benefit from a fun, engaging summer youth program. I am truly lucky to have had Kate for a supervisor and even luckier that I can call her a friend.

And Dave, our current Executive Director, who is the other hardest working person I have ever met. I have to thank him for always believing in me and appreciating what I do. It is very rare to find a boss who has so many things on his/her plate yet still takes time to show how much he respects and values his employees. Dave has shown me how important it is to be a patient leader- that taking your time with certain decisions really does pay off. Having an Executive Director who is grateful, rational, and strong makes the employees work harder and better so they can live up to his example and make him proud, and in the end his leadership is what makes Courageous so successful.

Courageous Sailing is really the warm, sometimes a little wacky, community that everyone says it is. It keeps people returning year after year, looking for the meaningful purpose, the environment, and the heart that is at its core. I can’t wait to return after some time away to see all of the incredible things that is group has accomplished. Fair winds and see you all again soon :)

-Rebecca Inver, Youth Program Outreach Coordinator

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