Youth across the Caribbean learn valuable life skills from leadership to teamwork, all while enjoying a sport often out of reach.
Victor looked out from his house out on the placid cool ocean. The crystal blue water’s normal waves parting for a symbol of human achievement for thousands of years.
At only seven years old, he wants the world. Yet, for most youth in the Caribbean, the chance to participate in sailing remains only a dream. When Bow Sailing arrives to break through that wall, your hopes spread to the horizon. So you can imagine the pure anguish to be told you’re ‘too young’ to participate.
As anyone would at that age, he cried and begged with his parents to let him at least come for just one day. Eventually, Victor got his moment in the sun.
Fast-forward a splendid few weeks of sailing camp, and Victor was a staple amongst his peers. This vivacious youngster didn’t push himself above the team, but with them. As camp came to a close, you could look out onto the water and see him steering and sailing with others older than himself across the ocean.
Countries around the world understand the value of sport in society. Competition against oneself and peers cultivates teamwork, trust, and camaraderie that transcends barriers. Despite any political overtones, the Olympic athletes represent their teams, sports, and countries with pride. You’re more likely to see cultural barriers broken first in sport than in other places.
Bow Sailing provides underserved youth with a chance to participate in a multi-faceted camp. Every day begins with a practice in mindfulness. This includes tai chi, yoga, meditation, or other partner work. These morning sessions provide structure and balance for the children, bringing the focus to the here and now, rather than any larger problems around them
With highly trained staff, the campers learn everything from the basics of sailing, to advanced skills akin to those used in the regattas. The focus of these camps revolves around sailing, wellness, team building, and continued education. Skills taught to these children help them interact with their peers and set them up for success in the future.
Think about the stress most of us deal with in our daily lives. The kids might live in a serene natural environment but their upbringing can often be far from it. With gang and domestic violence very present in the neighbourhoods and a lack of proper schooling and resources for growth worsening the situation, it can be quite a challenge for a schoolchild to cope with the day to day.
Glenn was a recent camper, quite new to steering a boat – no small task. Most people picture sailing as a leisurely activity. But let me tell you, it can be extremely difficult. While he was sailing along, steering for the day, the boat hit a pretty big puff that rocked things all over the place.
Initially, Glenn freaked out – a completely natural response. Then, he began to work on his breathing techniques on his own. He stopped, looked out to the coach and said: “wait— breath, I just gotta breathe.” That kind of success doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t common among kids. It requires practice to ingrain it, so when you reach for it, it’s there.
About Bow Sailing
Bow Sailing is a non-profit organization supported by Scandinavian Capital Markets. It is based out of the Virgin Islands whose mission is to empower local Caribbean youth through sailing and mindfulness life skills. The meaning of the organization name comes from the word “bow,” meaning the front of a boat as well as a sign of gratitude. Please visit their site here for more information and to help.
All photos are courtesy of Bow Sailing.