Washington County is graced with an abundance of coastline and interior waterways, a feature that has long been a part of the environmental and cultural heritage of the area. In an effort to encourage local youth to embrace that connection, Washington County Community College (WCCC) and the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club partner together each year to offer a youth sailing camp for ages 8-18. This year, there will be four separate camps divided by skill level running through the month of August.
The Youth Sailing Camps are taught by certified sailing instructors, and children with all degrees of familiarity with the art of sailing are encouraged to join in. “If you’ve never sailed before, this is a great way to learn to do it,” said Scott Fraser, Director of WCCC’s Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC). Fraser said there are three primary goals of the camp: “Having fun, being safe, and learning to be comfortable on the water.”
This year’s Youth Sailing Camp begins with two beginner classes, appropriate for ages 8-12. The first session will take place on Indian Lake from July 30th to August 3rd and the second session will be held at Keene’s Lake from August 6th to 10th. The intermediate camp, for those between 8-12 who have gotten a handle the basics, will be held from August 13th to 17th at Keene’s Lake. Older children between the ages of 12-18 who have gained a degree of mastery in the art can take part in the advanced program, held at Boyden’s Lake from August 20th to 24th.
At the end of each camp week, parents are invited to join their children for an outdoor barbecue and to celebrate and demonstrate the skills they’ve learned. “Kids get to take their parents out sailing,” Fraser said.
Each class has a maximum size of twelve students and registering early is recommended. The beginner and intermediate programs have a cost per week of $135, while the advanced course is $150. For families with financial need, a scholarship fund created by the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club can help to meet or offset the program cost. Members of the club generously donate each year to enable more local children to attend.
The Passamaquoddy Yacht Club has long been an advocate of reaching out to area youth to develop and perpetuate a love of being on and around the water. The club, which traces its origins back to the Campobello Yacht Club – founded in 1930 by members that included Franklin D. Roosevelt – has an established history of supporting youth participation whenever possible. The club’s goal of promoting sailing amongst area children gained an important ally six years ago in the form of the OAC, which in turn is committed to encouraging outdoor recreation in the community in all seasons.
Fraser himself is a passionate advocate for water-based recreation in general. “We’re a series of communities based around the water, but we’re finding that a lot of kids don’t get to experience it,” he said. Approximately forty children now attend the Youth Sailing Camp every summer.
To register for a class or to find out more information about the specific skills being covered, visit www.passamaquoddyyachtclub.org/school.