Piers Park Sailing Center is a sailing program is for youth between the ages of 9 and 18.

Key Takeaways

  • Youth participation is encouraged through the instructor’s natural love for the program.

  • Sailing requires teamwork and hard work. Staff offer incentives for students when they see them using these skills.

  • Students of all ages are brought together and form relationships with one another.

Q: How were youth encouraged to participate in your summer program?


A: One of the biggest things is that our current instructors were all once students, so it is really a program that gives back to itself. We have students who come and love to sail and love being at Piers Park, and they love it so much that they decide to come back as instructors. That love carries through to their students, and it is a process that goes on and on. Students learn to love the program, not just because it is so fun, but because their instructors build up the opportunity.


Instructors are also only assigned to 4 or 5 students. These small groups enable instructors to really get to know their student, and that atmosphere makes the students feel open.


Our program will also adapt to any student’s needs or disabilities that might prevent them from sailing. It is our mission to make it possible for anyone to sail and feel empowered on the boat. With that in mind, our instructors really cater to the people in front of them and make them feel welcome.

Q: What activities did students respond most positively to and want to participate in? Were there any activities that most students did not engage with? Why do you think that is?


A: I think students love getting on the water the most. To get off the dock and really start sailing is an experience unlike anything else. One necessary aspect of sailing is setting up and putting the boat away, but because it is more work, some kids don’t like to do it. If one student is slacking and everyone else is trying, this can be hard for the group.


It is important for the instructor to motivate the group and encourage them to act as a team. Making the connection between hard work, setting up the boat, and being able to do something you love, sailing, can be challenging for students. But, the ones that love sailing come to this realization naturally. To encourage students to help with setting up and putting away the boat, we have a rewards system, such as a bead for a keychain, for students who did a lot of the hard work.

Q: For the grade level(s) your program works with, what are the key characteristics of activities or your program model that fosters engagement and participation?


A: While there is a large range of ages, the majority of students are between the ages of 10 and 14. We try to group students of similar ages together. We also play games at the beginning of each day, the type of game that we play is intended to break the barriers between students and can be played by anyone. It is fun for the instructors, who are anywhere from 16 to 22 years old.


Having relationships with instructors breaks down the barriers as well. Younger students can feel that if they have a relationship with their instructor who is older than them, then they can have relationship with the older students as well.


Piers Park Sailing Center is a sailing program is for youth between the ages of 9 and 18. The goal is to get kids on the water and teach them how to sail. The program is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. The program teaches students the fundamentals of sailing, puts them in charge of the boat, and just gets them going.