This year I was a student leader on the 2016 kayaking trip. For the previous year I had been taking a class called “outdoor leadership seminar”. During that class, we learned the necessary techniques to becoming a good leader, and what it means to be leader. We also learned about different leadership styles, and various ways to help a group of people bond with each other. The trip is the capstone project for the whole year. Me and another senior (Altana) were student leaders.
I enjoyed the trip very much. It was a way to demonstrate practically all of the skills we had been learning academically the entire year. It was a very good way of capping off my experience being in the class, and demonstrating and using what I had learned. One aspect of the experience I found particularly difficult was keeping the group entertained and happy, something which was difficult in constant near-freezing rain which lasted the duration of the trip. One thing which surprised me about being a leader was that I felt prepared for being one. I had anticipated feeling completely out of my depth, a feeling which thankfully I did not feel while on the trip. I used a leadership style of being strict occasionally, and other times letting the group do its own thing. Sometimes people need strict guidance on what to do, but for the group dynamic to improve it is essential to give them some breathing room. I would say that this style worked fairly well. I plan to keep using this leadership philosophy, or something similar, after this trip.
From the students I learned how keep up a good attitude even when the weather conditions are horrible. It rained for most of the trip, and yet they seemed to be having a good time for the majority of the trip. I believe that peer leadership is effective. Since they see us as somewhere between peers and full fledged adult teachers, they do tend to listen to our instruction.
The activities I had planned were a mixed bag. They seemed to be having a blast with most of them, but one, a game where they had to draw a picture from memory, was not enjoyed. The biggest problem and unexpected obstacle was that the group got bored with activities much faster than expected, meaning that we had to quickly come up with new ones. In the future, I would rather overplan too many activities and not use them than plan too few.
I believe that as a leader I am good at explaining the methods behind what I am getting people to do. If you tell people “wear rain pants” they will resist because rainpants look hilariously bad and crinkle when you walk. If, however, I explain why they have to wear rainpants, ‘so your pants don’t get soaked, and because it will keep raining tomorrow they will not have time to dry out”, they are more likely to do the things that are asked of them. In the future I would like to work on coming up with more fun activities to help bring the group together. I felt that I was well prepared for my leadership role.
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.
This summer, I had the pleasure of volunteering at Sail Newport. Sail newport is a public access sailing program located in Newport, Rhode island. This program has the goal of providing access to sailing programs to a variety of ages. The kids start around age six, and Sail newport offers advances programs for people up to age 18, the maximum age allowed to sail in local regattas. This organization is unique in that area, in that it offers sailing programs while not connected to a Yacht club. This means that anyone can learn to sail, without being members of a Yacht club. As most of the children’s parents do not know how to sail, this program gets them out on the water. Sailing is one of the worlds most enjoyable sports, and this program offers access to it for those who might not otherwise be able to have it.
During the summer, I assisted instructors in teaching smaller children. They were not beginners, having sailed for approximately two years. As a result, they were learning slightly more advances material. I assisted in teaching them the correct sailing technique. On multiple occasions, I demonstrated the correct way to tack the boat, among other skills, much to their amusement, as I barely fit into the tiny 5 foot long boat. Working with sail newport was a highly rewarding experience. Last summer, I also helped here, and this summer, I was able to expand upon my experience from last year. Teaching younger children the correct technique was very rewarding. I really enjoyed this summer, and I really hope that I can return next summer