It’s halfway through the summer and Piers Park Sailing Center’s (PPSC) summer programs, both in-person and virtually, have been a success so far.
“Our in-person youth programs resumed June 29,” said PPSC Executive Director Alex DeFronzo. “Summer sessions of the Inclusive Youth Development Program, now in the fifth week, are going well. With reduced enrollment and strict adherence to guidelines, students are learning in an environment as safe as reasonably possible.”
DeFronzo said outdoor education was a key to student growth and learning in past pandemics, and holds great value now.
“Students have been advancing through the program curriculum at an impressive speed,” said DeFronzo. “In total, we have 360 youth program slots this summer. In a typical year, we see more than 1,900 young sailors, so this was a difficult reduction in student enrollment. Priority enrollment went to students from environmental justice communities, students from families with low household income, and students with disabilities.”
DeFronzo said there was a special exception and one program saw a growth in enrollment this year.
“Our teen program, Future Leaders and Instructor Trainees, has 26 students enrolled, up from five enrolled three years ago,” said DeFronzo. “These teens are our future sailing instructors and building their skills is essential for sustaining youth programs in 2021 and beyond.”
Operating the sailing programs safely meant acquiring a lot of new gear including personal protective equipment like face coverings and gloves, disinfectants, hand washing stations, dock brushes, soap foaming hose attachments, about 100 new life jackets, hand sanitizer, and more. “It also meant changing instructor to student ratios from 1:6 to 1:2 in most programming,” said DeFronzo. “We would not have been able to make these adaptations without the support of many individual donors, corporate partners, foundations, and state grants. A very big thank you to all who have supported us in 2020.”
To supplement its in-person programs the Sailing Center developed more than 30 videos for online education
“If you haven’t already, visit our YouTube channel for new content,” said DeFronzo. “Every week through the summer, we will release videos on sailing skills and marine science. You can subscribe to our channel to get the latest updates.”