By S/C Betty & Bob Gray
As far back as the records bare, the Berkeley Yacht Club has had a Junior Sailing Program run by members for members’ children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews and friends. Over the years we have had many different formats but the goal has always been to share our love of and respect for the water with our young sailors.
In 2000, Jan Leary, member and Berkeley teacher re-established the program and include the sixth-grade students at Berkeley’s two middle schools. More recently, about eight years ago Staff Commodores Falk Meissner and Michael Whitfield decided it was time to re-establish a junior program which became BYC Kids’ Sailing and Fun Camp. This year’s camp was led by our Fleet Captain, Roger Mason and Club Manager Suliana Baldwin. This Old Salt and her husband, Bob had more fun than the kids and went home every night exhausted.
Here is a recap of the five days that nine young sailors ages 5 to 14 can bring to Berkeley Yacht Club. Who knows, they maybe Old Salts someday? This year we had one senior counselor, Melina, three junior counselors Sam, Jordan and Zayar, who are all starting high school this year, and six brave sailors: Dominic, Vesper, Isadora, Benjamin, Darius and Marcellus.
DAY ONE Orientation and rules followed by a walk around the marina checking out the boats and harbormasters office back for lunch and then kayaks. Lots of paddling around the marina. Each day for about 3 hours these 9 sailors paddled these kayaks and every day they got better and stronger.
DAY TWO The kids embarked on a Dragon Boat experience with paddlers Judy Lee, Leslie Aguilar and Cal Dragon Paddlers. Judy shared her expertise and passion for dragon boating, teaching our junior paddlers teamwork and techniques for a unique opportunity to try something new. After the morning on the Dragon Boat Judy, Leslie and the Cal Dragon Paddlers joined the campers for a great lunch of grilled hamburgers with special sauce, tater tots and fruit prepared by Roger and Emma.
DAY THREE Pegasus voyage. Sailors packed their lunches for a full day at sea sailing on the beautiful Pegasus with Captain Bob Kingston. Bob and the crew of Pegasus provided hands-on experience, teaching them the fundamentals of sailing and providing valuable insights into the maritime world and community. It's a chance for our young sailors to discover the joy of harnessing the wind and navigating the open waters.
DAY FOUR Sailors had a chance to unleash their creativity and build their own unique structures using a wide range of materials at the Adventure Playground. Isadora loved the red paint and saw, and Benjamin used hammer to pound on some wood. They all had fun with the zip line, bridges, forts, and building tools. After they all had lunch under the trees in the park before coming back for more kayaking.
DAY FIVE For the final day of camp, we went for a ride in the Bobbi Tosse over to Berkeley Marine Center where we met member and owner Cree Partridge who provided a look at what happens at a boatyard.
They were able to watch a boat get lifted from the water in the cradle, check out a new fast race boat design and all in all had a wonderful experience learning about what it takes to own a boat.
Back at the BYC Clubhouse, pizza was available along with pitchers of Shirley Temples. Certificates were awarded to campers and big “thank you” went out to all the volunteers who helped all week.
Special thanks to Fleet Captain Roger Mason, General Manager Suliana Baldwin, Judy Lee of the Dragon Boats, Bob Kingston of SV Pegasus, Cree Partridge of BMC, and all the other volunteers who helped during the week.
We look forward to more young sailors to enjoy a week of adventure at the 2024 Kids Camp!