Middle School Students can Learn How to Sail Safely this Spring Break

Middle school students can spend their spring break power boating, paddling, and sailing, right here in Beaufort!

Spirit of America, offered through Beaufort Community Sailing and Boating, is an educational boating program that teaches students ages 11-15 how to be safe boaters in all three boating disciplines – sail, power, and paddle. Based on a STEM curriculum, participants pair classroom time with hands-on training. Students get time on kayaks, stand up paddle boards, power boats, sail boats, and canoes. Students start in the pool to make sure they thoroughly understand the safety skills that are being taught, but the majority of the classes take place through practical teaching time on the Beaufort River.

For most students, Spirit of America is their first time in one or all three of the boating disciplines covered. Some students join the program because they have been anxiously awaiting their chance to be at the helm of the family boat. Spirit of America meets that objective by incorporating an SC Boating License class into the program. A state boating license is a requirement for boaters under 16 years of age before independently operating a personal watercraft or a boat powered by 15 horsepower motor or more, a requirement the students are thrilled to check off.

“My favorite day of the program is Friday’s Family Time,” says coordinator Tauri Duer. “The students are really excited to drive their parents around for a change, and I love seeing their confidence as they take control and demonstrate their new skills.”

It’s incredible just how many skills participants in this program learn in one week. Graduates’ abilities include tacking a sailboat upwind, docking a power boat, paddling a paddle board through a tidal stream, anchoring, and rescuing an overboard passenger.

The Spirit of America program is largely funded through grants and donations, making the program a terrific value. It costs $100 for the week-long program, which includes the SC Boating License class and a life jacket upon graduation. Registration is open and is expected to fill up quickly. Details about registering or volunteering for the program can be found at beaufortsailing.com/spirit-of-america.

-Tauri Duer