By Darren Lum
Help make this summer a boating highlight for young people by volunteering with 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 young people and young adults with an introduction to sailing, but also an opportunity to feel empowered and confident.
Robin Carmount, who started sailing only a few years ago, created the association in the hope of taking the young participants outside to spend time at the lake to learn and laugh.
“Some of these kids don’t really have a hobby outside of their daily routine, do they? Lots of them sit inside and play video games… I think that’s a really cool concept where at the end of the summer, when they go back to school, when the teacher says : “What did you do for the summer? ‘They can say they’ve been sailing. Like how many people can say they got to sail all summer, right? “
He adds that participants leave with a comprehensive understanding of sailing, including nautical terms.
The community has been an invaluable partner in this endeavor for the benefit of young people, including local businesses such as the Red Umbrella Inn where it started, and which continues to house the association and store the fleet of 15 boats.
This programming depends on its volunteers and their dedication.
“The more volunteers we have, the more time and days we can spend sailing. Let’s say we had four volunteers who could go out every night of the week and then we would sail every night of the week, ”he said.
There are now eight volunteers, Carmount said. Volunteers with sailing experience are preferred.
“A lot of people who come to us have sailed in their youth and haven’t done so for years. They just need a refresh. Anyone who has already had coaching or teaching experience. It would be more ideal, ”he said. “Maybe someone who can volunteer for transportation, pick up the kids if need be.”
He adds that pilots don’t necessarily need sailing experience, but can be trained to sail.
The first night of the association is scheduled for Thursday, July 15 and will continue until mid-September, depending on the temperature and water levels of Twelve Mile Lake near the Red Umbrella Inn.
New this year, participants will work towards three different levels of sailing instruction: gold, silver and bronze. Carmount said ahead of the season that he contacted various sailing instructors to get an example of what could be taught to participants. One response included the sailing program offered at Camp Timberlane, which is loosely based on the achievement levels described by the UK 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, then a demonstration of advanced skills is awarded the gold level.
Any time not spent in a boat on the water can still offer a chance to have fun swimming and fishing, Carmount said.
Unlike last year, all volunteers are vaccinated this year.
He said that due to the risks associated with COVID-19, there is no effort to add new participants at this time. COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing and, if that cannot be practiced, wearing a mask is mandatory, Carmount said.
“We are still trying to establish ourselves and organize ourselves,” he said.
This year, the association is looking to bring sailing to the youth of Wilberforce instead of bringing participants to the Red Umbrella Inn. Carmount said he plans to arrange a pickup of the attendees and drive them to a lake in the Wilberforce area.
The plan is to be able to avoid the challenges that have stood in the way of participants in this area.
“It was just one of those things. We were calling and emailing and getting no response. It’s a 100 kilometer round trip for them and these kids, for some reason during the day their parents are not available or they can’t drive that far. It’s a 100 kilometer round trip for them and it’s probably a 200 kilometer round trip for our volunteers, so I figured we had 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 out sailing, ”he said.
Carmount accepts monetary donations, but will accept sailboats in good condition, which could be resold for the benefit of the association to cover expenses such as insurance. A tax receipt for the donation can be provided.
Another method of funding will come from a rental service at the Red Umbrella Inn. This was made possible thanks to the donation by the association of a sailboat at the inn. Last summer, he said, the hostel had people asking about rentals when they saw the fleet of boats ashore.
Carmount said the opportunity is to give young people a memorable experience as it is about sailing education.
“If a kid comes home knowing that the back of a boat is called the stern, that’s a success,” he said.
For more information, email [email protected] or call (705) 455-2876.