Blog posts tagged in urban youth

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 Kayla McLaughlin, SwimSailScience and Summer Learning Project Head Sailing Instructor

 

“Teachers of young children do one of the best things that there is to do in life: bring joy and beauty, mystery and mischievous delight into the hearts of little people in their years of greatest curiosity”  -Jonathan Kozol

For the past three years I have had the pleasure of working with children from the Boston Public Schools, through the SLP and SSS programs. In that time, I have seen just how fitting the above quote is. It has been inspiring to watch 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders from some of the most difficult neighborhoods of Boston, conquer their fears, discover their passions, and accomplish their goals while sailing on the harbor.

After going sailing everyday, I usually gather my students, and talk with them about how their sail went. Everyone typically shares something they learned, something they are curious about, or a fear they had while out on the water. A few weeks ago, I was talking to Tyrese and Kathia about how their mornings went. Tyrese, a student from the Sarah Greenwood School, was having difficulty overcoming his fear of windy days. When I called on Kathia, a student at the Harvard Kent School, to tell the group what she learned on the water, she explained “Today, I learned that overcoming your fears makes you stronger”. When I asked, she elaborated, stating, “We were tipping over so much today, we got water in the boat! I knew Tyrese was scared, so I held his hand. I really liked how we worked as a team to overcome our fears. I also felt really brave, because I picked up the jelly fish that was in our boat, and put it in the water”. After her beautiful explanation, I asked Tyrese and Kathia if they felt like sailors, to which they both smiled and responded, “yes!”

Every day, I watch my staff kindle “mystery and mischievous delight” into the hearts of our students, and the students have done the same for us. My instructors and I celebrate amazing victories, such as the one I described above, and I consider it an honor to use sailing as a way to build confidence, conquer fears, and establish camaraderie and a sense of community for the young people of Boston.