sailing program provides youth a week of hard work, adventure aboard a tall ship

Nautical adventure awaits Cleveland youths this summer thanks to Project YESS (Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing), a program that allows local students to spend a week sailing and working on a 150-foot tall vessel.

The program, developed by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, is meant for high school students ages 13 to 17. Starting this year, teenagers will develop leadership and navigational proficiencies during a six-week land-based course. Graduates will then ply the Great Lakes aboard a tall ship, using the skills they learned to become a vital member of their on-board community. Lake-faring activities include reading charts, working in the galley and tying ropes.

"They are physically part of the crew,"  says Project YESS co-chair Anne Kelly. "All of them are sharing in responsibilities and duties from port to port."

The program started in 2010 in conjunction with the Tall Ships Festival. A group of volunteers help raise the $1,500-per-student fee, which includes curriculum materials, meals, and cost of berth. Students with strong leadership skills but who otherwise would not be able to afford the experience are targeted by Project YESS members.

"The kids hold each other accountable and teach one another to step up," Kelly says.

Project officials hope to bring the youth sailing camp experience to 35 students this year. Along with providing direction, confidence and a sense of community, the program can also open students’ eyes to the unique career opportunities that exist in the Great Lakes region, maintains Kelly.

To receive an application for the Project YESS 2013 class, email Applications must be mailed to the Rotary Club of Cleveland by March 15.

SOURCE: Anne Kelly
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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