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


By Emily Hart

I’ve been working with the Instructors in Training (IITs) on service learning projects of their own design throughout this summer. As future sailing instructors, the IITs need to know more than just environmental facts; it’s also essential for them to practice their skills in facilitation, organization and leadership. We decided at the beginning of the summer that a multi-week project, rooted in environmental education, would encourage the development of these important skills.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to check in with the IITs about the progress of their CANdy project, where they were encouraging students to bring in redeemable cans and bottles for a candy prize (get it??). About 30 minutes into our work on the project, the group energy plummeted. It turns out that none of the IITs really supported the project, even though they developed it as a group and decided collectively to move forward. Project CANdy was subsequently canned.

During our debrief of this project, the students talked about how everyone harbored thoughts at the back of their mind about project feasibility, yet everyone voted in favor of the project. I posed the question: In another situation, perhaps with a child’s safety in your hands, will you speak up even if no one else does? What do you say when your peers are silent? Even in our rather low-stakes environment, we found ourselves addressing real world questions around leadership and limits. I am so proud of the IITs for their insight into their process and our ensuring conversations around leadership, knowing our limitations and the power of our voices.

Because I won’t let them off the hook that easily, we decided to move forward with a new project based in our learning from CANdy. I proposed a project that has been stewing in my brain all summer: a Courageous Sailing coloring book based on local Boston Harbor species. The IITs took the idea and ran (sailed?) with it. We did a storyboard, made a few prototypes and broke the work into manageable chunks for our class next week. I’m also proud of myself for releasing the idea to their creativity and letting go of what I had originally envisioned. What they have planned is so much better than what I had thought of and I can’t wait for you to see it! 

in Green