Youth Land-Locked No
Mark Twain once said, “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from
the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
Discover,” and that is exactly the experience that Bill Bahen
wanted to provide New York City’s underprivileged children when
he founded Hudson River Community Sailing. As he explains it, “We
want them to know they can do something that is outside of their comfort
zone and gain a little more confidence in themselves.”
In only its first summer of operation, HRCS is already a huge success.
All sixteen of its sessions from July 7th, 2008 until August 29th have
been filled with kids aged 10-18 from programs like the Harlem Boys
and Girls Club and the Chinese-American Planning Committee. Each week,
HRCS has two new groups of kids, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
For the first time in their lives, these kids get the chance to learn
about sailing through a hands-on experience on board a Rainbow 24. Working
with the HRCS instructors, kids learn about boat handling, points of
sail, sail rigging, and wind direction. In addition, kids learn about
teamwork from sailing the boat together, leadership and autonomy from
having their turn at being captain, and confidence from seeing the boat
move under their direction. Though many kids are apprehensive at first
due to their inexperience with sailboats and the water, by the end of
the first day, it is all smiles and fun stories.