The schooner Harvey Gamage is sailing south from Gloucester today with Ocean Classroom 2011. In all my years in education, I have never seen students more excited--more pumped--more jacked--than the twenty-three members of this year's crew. This is from their campus departure:
Here they're getting initial instructions from a First Mate at the docks in Gloucester.
Tuesday afternoon, parents, teachers and friends were invited on board for a bon voyage reception. The crew had already been broken into "watches," groups that will be wholly responsible for the ship for four-hour watch periods. Sailing at sea has a relatively strict--almost militaristic--code of procedures and protocols that maximize safety. Our students have priorities memorized: ship first, then shipmates, then self. "What can I do to help?" is social currency.
These kids know exactly what is coming. Bunks are cramped and damp. Clothes will be smelly. There will be days--no one knows how many--of persistent nausea. There will be nights on watch when each sailor's harness is secured to lifelines, and salt spray is mixed with rain.
Despite the promise of these discomforts, these kids would not trade places with anyone, anywhere. They know--because they've been told repeatedly by last year's crew--that the rewards are the greatest they will ever experience: a glorious reach at sunrise, accompanied by dolphins; working with children at a Dominican school; sailing under El Morro into San Juan Harbor on November 19.
They will work hard and study hard, and everything they will do they will do as a team. Ocean Classroom is the most intense educational program offered in a college preparatory curriculum anywhere, and the results are life-transforming.
At Tuesday's send off, program Director Dave Pilla thanked parents for entrusting their children to the professionals who make this experience a reality. One student gushed, "MY parents are so proud of me!"
Director of Development Keith Barrett '80 (right) gestures in discussion with George Dow P'81,'83 who--as a Trustee--had the vision for this remarkable program.
Jessica '12, Garry '78, P '07 and Lynn George at the helm of the Harvey Gamage.
Parental pride (and envy!)
Dave chats with Natasha's mom, who is visiting from Shanghai.
Relationships that really matter!
Dave and Eli in the galley.
Dan and Zoli navigate tight quarters.
Parents on deck.
Dinner prep and the scent of baking bread in the galley.