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By Morgan O'brien

For the past two summers, I have taught in the Swim Sail Science and Summer Learning Project programs at Courageous. These programs, as said before in an earlier blog post, are taken from difficult and challenging areas of the city. It is fascinating to watch these nine to eleven year-olds learn how to sail. For many of them, this is their first time on a sailboat; and for a few others, a first time on any boat at all. But they are all fascinated to be sailing on the water.

The kids, whether they know it or not, are all learning new things while on a sailboat. Such as how to drive a sailboat, how to tell where the wind is coming from, and how to trim the sails. Besides learning sailing skills, they also ask questions about sailing, the things they see on Boston Harbor, or whatever crosses their minds. Questions can range from whether or not it will rain to asking permission if we can flip the boat over. Occasionally, the kids I teach will try to teach me something new or something about the harbor that I didn’t know about or the rules in the popular Pokemon card game. One student, JJ, has tried to teach me many things. JJ has been a student in the Swim Sail Science program the past two years, and has a very vivid imagination. He has told me many new fascinating things about the harbor, one of these facts about the harbor is that “the water is green because Irish people have been in it.” JJ has also told me and other instructors countless other pieces of information about sharks, dogs, and dog sharks. Taiquan, another Swim Sail Science student, has also taught me several interesting facts about myself and the harbor as well. One of the things he has said is that “humans don’t have hair, they have feathers”. 

Several other students in the SSS and SLP programs have tried to each me new things as well. Without the students in these programs, I would be completely oblivious to dog sharks and the feathers that are growing out of my head. It is great to see that kids at such a young age have a vivid imagination that help keep the program and the day sailing interesting. It would be a very different program if the kids did not feel that they could question how the sail boat works, what was in the water, or anything else that came across them. Really, the kids make these programs enjoyable for themselves and their fellow campers, all I do is teach them sailing.

By Emily Hart

On Thursday, our Summer Learning Project students learned about fossil fuels and went coal mining to explore the effects of mining on our environment.

We simulated coal mining by mining chocolate chip cookies (the “land”) for chocolate chips (the “coal”) with only toothpicks (“very high tech mining equipment”). It was great to see so many heads down in concentration! After carefully counting the total number of chocolate chips in two different kinds of cookies, I caved to the ongoing pleads to actually eat the cookies. But before they could eat them, I told the students they needed to put their cookies back together.

Stunned silence. “I can’t put my cookie back together!!”. This activity illustrated the effects of coal mining and other extractive industries---it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to restore the land to its original condition. What followed were conversations around energy use and other options, like solar and wind, which we had learned about the previous week.

I was reflecting on this activity during a meeting the follow day with Dave, (Courageous Executive Director), Chris (a board member), Kate (Director of Youth Programs) and Rebecca (Youth Program Outreach Coordinator). It was great to talk about the environmental education program this summer and to look towards the future together. There are so many opportunities to expand the Courageously Green Initiative, from seascape murals on the boathouse walls to air dryers in the bathrooms and the elimination of paper towel waste. There is a lot of potential with the Instructors in Training (IIT) program and with staff education, in addition to continuing to refine the student curriculum. I’m keeping track of our ideas and would love to know—how do you think we can continue to be Courageously Green?

in Green