By Darren Lum
Help make this summer a nautical highlight for youth by volunteering for the Haliburton County Youth Sailing Association.
Entering its third year of operation, the sailing association is a community initiative and offers a unique experience for youth and young adults with an introduction to sailing, but also an opportunity to feel empowered and confident.
Robin Carmount, who only began sailing a few years ago, started the association in the hopes of getting young participants outside to spend time at the lake to learn and to laugh.
“Some of these kids they don’t really have any hobbies outside of their daily routine, right? A lot of them sit inside and play video games … I think it’s a really cool concept where at the end of the summer when they get to go back to school when the teacher says, ‘what did you guys do for the summer?’ They can say they went sailing. Like how many people get to say that they got to sail all summer, right?”
He adds the participants come away with a comprehensive understanding of sailing, including nautical terms.
The community have been an invaluable partner in this endeavor to benefit youth including local businesses such as the Red Umbrella Inn where it started, and which continues to host the association and store the15 boat fleet.
This programming depends on its volunteers and their dedication.
“The more volunteers we have the more times and days that we can get out sailing. Let’s say we had four volunteers that could come out every night of the week then we would sail every night of the week,” he said.
There are eight volunteers now Carmount said. Volunteers with sailing experience are preferred.
“A lot of people that come to us have sailed in their youth and haven’t done it for years. They just need a refresher. Anybody that has had any previous coaching, or teaching experience. That would be more ideal,” he said. “Maybe someone that can volunteer with transportation, picking up kids, if need be.”
He adds drivers don’t necessarily require sailing experience, but can be trained to sail.
The association’s first night is scheduled for this Thursday, July 15 and will continue until mid-September, which is based on temperature and water levels of Twelve Mile Lake close to the Red Umbrella Inn.
New this year, the participants will be working towards three different levels of sailing education: gold, silver and bronze. Carmount said before the season he reached out to various sailing instructors for an example of what could be taught to participants. One response included the sailing syllabus offered at Camp Timberlane, which is loosely based on the levels of achievement outlined by the United Kingdom’s sailing body, the Royal Yachting Association. Bronze is an introduction to sailing while silver builds on what is learned and then applies theory on the water, and then a demonstration of advanced skills are rewarded with the gold level.
Any time not spent in a boat water can still present a chance for fun with swimming and fishing, Carmount said.
Unlike last year, all of the volunteers are vaccinated this year.
He said due to the risks associated with COVID-19 there is not an effort to add new participants at this time. COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing and, if that cannot be practised, than a mask is required to be worn, Carmount said.
“We’re still trying to establish ourselves and get organized,” he said.
This year the association is looking to bring sailing to youth in Wilberforce instead of bringing participants to the Red Umbrella Inn. Carmount said he’s looking at arranging a pickup of participants and have them driven to a lake in the Wilberforce area.
The plan is to be able to avoid the challenges that stood in the way for participants in that area.
“It was just one of those things. We were calling and emailing and weren’t getting any replies It’s a 100 kilometre round trip for them and these kids for whatever reason during the day their parents aren’t available or they can’t drive that far. It’s a 100 kilometre round trip for them and it’s probably a 200 kilometre round trip for our volunteers, so I thought we have extra boats. Let’s put a boat in Wilberforce and designate it as a Wilberforce boat and we’ll pick them up and take them for a sail,” he said.
Carmount welcomes monetary donations, but will accept sailboats in good condition, which could be resold to benefit the association to cover expenses such as insurance. A tax receipt for the donation can be provided. Another method for funds will come from a rental at the Red Umbrella Inn. This was possible through the association’s donation of a sailboat to the inn. Last summer, he said, the inn was having people ask about rentals upon seeing the fleet of boats on shore.
Carmount said the opportunity is about giving youth a memorable experience as it is about education about sailing.
“If a kid comes home knowing the back of a boat is called the stern than that’s a success,” he said.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (705) 455-2876.