What was the perfect solution when Courageous Sailing Center realized that they needed a sailboat to use as a transition boat? – The RS Quest.
Courageous Sailing Center’s approach to youth sailing is simple, “Every child’s perspective is improved 50 yards offshore.” This philosophy helped the Boston based community sailing organization create and develop their nationally recognized youth program, combining sailing and the marine environment as the basis for social and emotional growth. The community aspect holds special importance for Courageous, “our program brings together kids from all walks of life and fosters a community that reflects the diversity of our city,” Director of Education Jen Bodde says.
Courageous offers two programs for kids throughout the summer, Steps to Lead and Swim Sail Science. Steps to Lead is a 6-Step summer sailing program in which students progress over multiple years from the 1-week “Taste of Sailing” step, through 3-week advanced steps, and then to becoming eligible by age 15 for a 7-week paid Instructor-in-Training program. As students progress through the program, they advance from keelboats (Rhodes 19) to dinghies (420s and Lasers).
In 2016, Courageous realized that they needed a boat to use as a transition boat. The perfect solution? The RS Quest. “The RS Quest has been great; we needed a boat that would work for kids of different sizes and skill levels,” Bodde says. “It has a high boom and is easy to reef so kids can learn/race while staying safe, but the asymmetrical spinnaker makes it enjoyable for more advanced sailors. It helps students get used to boats that can tip and capsize but are more stable than other dinghies.”
The RS Quest’s use is not limited to their Steps to Lead program. After completion of Steps to Lead, students are eligible for the Instructor-in-Training Program. Through this 2-summer program students make the transition from student to instructor, learning transferable job skills along the way. The RS Quest is frequently used to help teach more advanced concepts, such as spinnaker work. For Bodde the addition of the RS Quest to Courageous’ fleet has benefited the program immensely; “overall, the RS Quest has given us the ability to create more comfort in dinghy sailing while still giving us the opportunity to teach more advanced concepts and skills.”
Several of Courageous’s Instructors-in-Training got involved with sailing through Courageous’s other summer program, Swim Sail Science. Run in conjunction with Boston Public Schools, Swim Sail Science engages economically disadvantaged youth at high risk for summer learning loss. The five-week program serves 60 elementary students and combines sailing, swimming and academics. Even though it is an academic program, it is not your typical “summer school. “Everything that the kids are learning and doing goes hand in hand,” Bodde says. “Students aren’t just doing math problems; they’re calculating how many boats they’ll need for everybody to go sailing. Out on the water, they are collecting water samples to test in science class. Keeping things exciting relevant, and fun makes all the difference.”
The unique blend of traditional academics and hands-on education empowers Courageous kids to become confident learners on and off the water. Through games and challenges, Courageous Sailing teaches social and interpersonal skills as well as reading, math, and science; altogether helping students gain perspective, 50 yards offshore.