This summer, there’s something new your kid can try: learning how to sail. Through the Pontiac Sailing Education Foundation (PSEF) Junior Sailing Program at Pontiac Yacht Club, your child can learn a skill that they will have for the rest of their life.
And what better way to enjoy the natural beauty of southeast Michigan — and the entire state and Great Lakes region — than to launch a boat onto a beautiful lake and enjoy the experience of sailing?
PSEFJunior Sailing Program once again welcomes kids ages 6 to 18 to learn the basics of sailing or expand their skills and learn new techniques. Learning to sail is a great opportunity to try something new, says Eric Ellison, Program Director with PSEFJunior Sailing Program.
Here, we share the top four reasons why your kid should participate in the Junior Sailing Program at Pontiac Yacht Club this summer:
1. No experience is necessary!
Through this program, kids as young as 6 can learn all the basics of sailing — and most kids who participate have never been on a sailboat or have very limited time on a boat.
“This program is a great foundation for kids to learn a sport they can enjoy for the rest of their lives,” says Ellison.
Only basic swimming skills are required and every participant wears lifejackets while in the water. Program leaders do a swim check (with lifejacket on!) for every child at the beginning of the week and they’re looking for kids to show they are comfortable in the water, Ellison says.
2. PSEF’s Junior Sailing Program is safe, always
While children are learning how to sail, they’re also learning important water safety techniques from program instructors who are US Sailing Association Level 1 certified. That means they have proven they know the most important water safety skills and have CPR certification. They’re also avid sailors themselves, Ellison says.
The entire program is overseen and directed by Ellison, who has Level 3 Sailing Association Certification. “I’ve coached junior sailors for more than 20 years and my top priority is to create a safe, fun learning environment for everyone who participates,” he says.
The summer program is held on Cass Lake and has been operating for decades, providing enjoyment for hundreds of kids in metro Detroit.
3. Sailing offers the thrill of a new sport
As a sport, sailing is one of the fastest-growing activities across the country, Ellison says. It’s a perfect sport for kids who might be tired of the typical sports offered for kids, like soccer, basketball, baseball or softball.
Sailing can provide a lot of enjoyment at a slower, more laid-back pace for kids, while still requiring active participation, both individually and as a team. As kids advance in their skill level, they can join a racing team and dig deeper into the sport.
“Many colleges and universities across the country have sailing teams and clubs, and that gives kids something to help guide their post-secondary decisions,” Ellison says. “Not a lot of people know that colleges have these opportunities.”
Pontiac Yacht Club is home to many high school sailing teams in the area, and the PSEF program is dedicated to helping kids learn the sport of sailing no matter where these skills might take them.
4. Summer is for sailing and having fun with new friends
While kids learn how to use all the sailing equipment on boats that are sized just for them, they benefit from all the joy everyone expects from summer youth programming. The PSEF Junior Sailing Program is designed to be instructional and fun, too.
Mornings are filled with learning the basics of sailing on shore, then participants prepare their boats and sail until lunchtime. After they eat lunch on shore, kids can swim, then try some more sailing before putting all their equipment away. Throughout the day, kids learn how to communicate, work as a team and set goals.
“The kids work to a timeline and achieve their goals. And they gain a sense of pride as well as the fun rewards of learning new skills,” Ellison says. “They also really enjoy the experience.”
And, what’s the point of learning how to sail if you don’t learn at least a little pirate lore along the way? Ellison and his team make sure to build in some fun themes and contests so kids can dress up and have even more fun.
Kids can attend by the week, in two-week sessions or for the whole summer. Many kids even come back summer after summer to soak up the fun and improve their sailing skills.
Learn more about the Pontiac Sailing Education Foundation Junior Sailing Program at Pontiac Yacht Club and register your kid at psef54.org.