Giles’s Sail Newport Summer of Service

Last summer I volunteered as a sailing assistant at a facility known as Sail Newport.  This amazing place, founded in 1983, is located in Newport, RI.  It is a unique place.  It has the unique goal of teaching children how to sail.  Sailing is typically an elitist sport.  There are two traditional methods of learning how to sail.  The first; to learn from parents who know how to sail already.  The second; to be members of a yacht club, which ate typically the only places who offer sailing lessons.  If a particular child’s family is not fortunate enough to own their own boat, finding a place to learn how to sail is very difficult.  Sail Newport aims to break down these barriers and enable children to learn how to sail who might not otherwise get the opportunity to do so.

     Learning to navigate your own boat teaches confidence, resiliency, and independence.  In order to skipper your own boat, you need to learn how to be independent, to make split second decisions of vast importance.  It imparts a valuable lesson; when your boat capsizes, it is always possible to flip it upright and keep going.  Managing difficult situations teaches confidence and the ability to trust one’s own decisions.  When something (inevitably) goes wrong, it demonstrates the importance of remaining calm. When I was younger, I learned how to sail and later raced at SN.  Sail Newport taught me so much. My amazing experience kickstarted my love of the ocean and imparted upon me life lessons I still call on almost every day.  As such, I felt that I needed to give back, to help other children to have the same amazing experiences that I myself had had.  

During the summer, I volunteered as an assistant coach.  I helped explain concepts, such as sailing upwind, and then demonstrated them, as of all the other instructors I was the only one who could fit in the tiny, student-sized boats.  I have volunteered with them in previous years, but this year I preformed a greater role than in previous years.  As they had had experience with me before, they trusted me to play a greater role.  I was allowed to ride with the instructors on the motorboats, calling out instructions to the group of children sailing alongside, and on the dock, I helped show them how to correctly set up and disassemble the boats.  It was a very rewarding experience for me.  It helped me to develop my leadership skills, and I hope that I had a positive impact on the lives of the children that I worked with.


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