“To reach a port, we must set sail—sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift,” President Franklin Roosevelt said, reminding us of the importance of taking control over the direction of our lives. While FDR used sailing as a metaphor, there is a tangible empowerment granted to those who learn how to sail. This past summer, 38 youth from around Eastern Washington County participated in a weeklong sailing camp as part of the Downeast Community Summer Sailing Series, effectively granting them comfort with taking the helm in more ways than one.
“We wanted to reconnect local kids with their heritage,” organizer Scott Fraser said. Fraser is the director of WCCC’s Outdoor Adventure Center as well as a member of the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club (established by FDR), creating the link between the two organizations that have collaborated to offer the series over the past four years.
The youth sailing series has been increasingly popular, and several youth have returned each year to improve their skills. This past summer was the first year in which an advanced class was offered for youth aged 12-18 in additional to two basic classes and an intermediate one for youth aged 8-12.
Students in the basic class trained at either Indian Lake or Keene’s Lake using 8’ long mirror-class boats made from plywood. “It’s a great boat for teaching,” Fraser said. The boats are typically acquired at a low cost and then repaired before joining the constantly-growing fleet.
The six youths in the advanced class were introduced to racing on F-J Flying Junior boats at Gleason’s Cove in Perry. “Racing makes you a better sailor. It makes you more connected to the wind and the water,” Fraser explained. The opportunity to race was very well received by the participants, particularly since the camp ran concurrently with the Olympics in Rio. “They were so excited. They lived and breathed sailing,” Fraser said.
“Next year we’ll have a cohort of kids ready to race,” Fraser said, describing how he envisioned a competitive high school team made up of kids from the region. “That way we can continue to create a culture around sailing, racing and getting kids back on the water.”
The cost of the camp is $125, although scholarships for $100 are available to eligible students thanks to the generosity of the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club. “It really runs on volunteerism and donations from the club members and the community,” Fraser said. He extended his thanks to Bill Case, Rob Brown, and Keene’s Lake Campground for allowing them to use their property to access the lakes. “It’s partnerships like these that really make the whole thing happen.”
The youth sailing series is an example of the type of programs that Fraser intends to continue creating through his reassumed-role as the director of WCCC’s OAC. “The goal is to have more programs like this where we’re engaging kids in the summer and throughout the school year.”
For more information on the sailing series, visit www.passamaquoddyyachtclub.org/school/.