Teenagers looking for a summer adventure at sea are being encouraged to check out the Nova Scotia Sea School’s free day sail and summer open house this weekend.
The non-profit youth organization was founded by Crane Stookey in 1994. It gives young people the opportunity for hands-on learning through sailing expeditions on a 28-foot traditional wooden sail boat.
The program is designed to teach teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 the values needed for successful seafaring and life on land: leadership, courage, generosity, resiliency, environmental stewardship, humour and community.
For five to seven days, they eat, sleep, sail, learn and live aboard the wind-powered boat as they navigate the province’s south shore coastline.
“We use it for youth to discover what their strengths and weaknesses are and for them to discover their potential,” said Heather Kelday, executive director of the Nova Scotia Sea School.
“It’s a program of personal development.”
She said students are sometimes taken aback when they first see the sailboat.
“It’s not a tall ship, and that’s what makes it so unique. When you get a group of youth who’ve never met each other, with no sailing experience, and have them sit on a boat at the same time, it really levels everyone,” Kelday said.
“There’s no technology allowed. Cell phones have to be left shore. They’re going into a primitive sailing environment and will be confined to this boat.”
That’s when they realize the importance of skills like team building and effectively dealing with conflict.
Safety is taken seriously, and there has never been a single safety incident on any Sea School boat or in any of its programs. Despite the cramped quarters, food includes fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, bread, home-made granola and other snacks. Meals are cooked onboard by crew.
Kelday said participants come from across Nova Scotia and even from beyond the province. The group is hosting an open house and free sail this weekend to encourage more youth to participate.
Although the program’s offices are based on Gottingen Street, they’ll be sailing out of the school’s Lunenburg boathouse, located at 174 Bluenose Dr.
This weekend’s free sail days offer interested youth an opportunity to get a taste for the program. Spots are offered on a first come, first served basis. Sails are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on both June 23 and 24.
Call the office at 423-7284 for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nova Scotia Sea School’s website is www.seaschool.org.
'Keep Your People in the Boat'
Crane Stookey, founder of the Nova Scotia Sea School, launched his first book earlier this year.
‘Keep Your People in the Boat, Workforce Engagement Lessons from the Sea’ highlights his experiences facilitating leadership with youth and adults aboard both tall and small ships like the sea school’s summer expedition boat, Elizabeth Hall.
Stookey will give 10 per cent of book sale proceeds to fund sea school programs.
“I wanted to articulate the benefit of the things I’ve learned on tall ships and at the sea school for a business audience,” he explained in an interview.
Stookey explained that core lessons learned at sea are just as important and practical when brought ashore.
“There’s a connection with the sea for many, and we all appreciate when the tall ships come to town,” he said. “Leading a crew at sea is a very real world, life and death situation..The kind of leadership I encourage is not leader dependent, otherwise nothing is better than the leaders themselves.”
Instead, he said, a leader should focus on bringing out the best in everyone to create a better, more efficient, high powered crew. This in turn leads to less strain and worry for the ‘leader,’ a message Stookey said really resonates with audiences.
“The notion of leader dependence really strikes people,” he said. “It’s something that everybody understands.”
The book is available at Drala Books on Grafton Street and at the Nova Scotia Sea School office, 2057 Gottingen St. It can also be ordered online via Stookey’s website, www.cranestookey.com, or through Amazon.