Considering the strange circumstances of these past months instigating paradigm shifts in our lives, I hope all of you are doing well. Remarkably, I’ve not been on the water this summer other than to make repairs to a boat at the dock. Probably a first in fifty years. But that ok. It’s safe to say, I’ve had my fair share and plenty more of sailing.
Of the disruptions to our normal lives, the one that concerns me the most is young people and their opportunities to learn during this COVID era. As we ramped up the Atlantic Cup Kids Education Program earlier this year, COVID stepped in and knocked us back off our feet. While we bolstered our online learning presence, and I did virtual classroom visits, it became evident that educating kids would take more ingenuity from all of us. Through our efforts, we still interacted with over 2000 students on our educational portal and in our virtual classroom visits.
So, have you got a minute? I hope your answer is yes, and I hope too that you’ll be up for sharing some of your expertise with a kid.
I know that may sound daunting. I know you aren’t a teacher, but neither am I. Maybe, you don’t even know many kids, I’m single, and don’t have any children. I get that. But our distance from young people, doesn’t help them much, nor does it challenge us to step up and lead. One of the lessons I’ve learned from COVID is that we all have a responsibility to our community. In that sense, the mysterious “they” is actually us.
This week, I helped to lead a course on Ecology and Boating Skills for The Chicago Maritime Arts Center. CMAC works with young people from all diversities, inspiring them by building a small boat, learning to row it, gaining confidence, and developing an appreciation for learning and being within our natural world. Many of the students we work with know the Chicago River and Lake Michigan exist, but access for them is not easy.
So, what do we do at CMAC? Our mainstay course teaches students to build a small, ten-foot Bevin boat with their hands and minds. When the building is complete, they paint the boat, name it, launch it in the harbor and learn to row on the water. COVID is not making this easy, but we’ve pivoted, and this week, I’m one of three instructors leading our Boating Skills and Ecology course for fourteen students at the South Shore and Jackson Park Yacht Clubs. We use COVID Protocols to keep the kids outdoors and at a safe distance with masks where they will learn about boats, ropes and knots, water quality, the environment of the River and Lake Michigan and, learn to row one of the previously built boats.
It’s going to be a great time, and as you all know, I get personal joy and a real sense of fulfillment from working with young students. I can’t explain how inspired I feel when I see a reluctant student gain the confidence to proudly row across the harbor, venture out, and wondering what other opportunities they can grab from life.
I’m going to put out more blog posts as we go along, so you can live vicariously in this fun-filled, hands-on learning world. Of course, if you’d like to help us out, you’re welcome to contact us at CMAC
Otherwise, you’re on your own… to do what feels inspiring to you, by way of mentoring kids. With our schools stifled in providing ordinary education, much less experiential learning, it’s our chance to step in and help out.
So, if you’ve got that spare minute, spend it with a young person. Invite them to learn about your car, your garden, your tools, your kitchen, or give them a copy of your favorite book and help shape their lives. We all have to gravitate from infusion learning, where we put students in a room and infuse them with information to desired learning, where we create, stimulate, and fulfill a person’s desire to learn—teaching them the lifelong skills of learning to learn. Even if you don’t think you are showing that young person anything, know they are listening to your words, how you speak, how you react, how you solve problems, and how to act responsibly.
Take that minute, and spend it generously!
P.S. BTW, if you happen to be looking for some great summer reading, I would be remiss if I did not recommend Spirit of a Dream.