Spots are still open for the Gig Harbor Yacht Club Junior Sail Camp for the Aug. 15 through 19 and Aug. 22 through 26 sessions.
The camp is in its seventh year and boasts about 100 participants each summer.
“The biggest success is how many kids come back for each year, but also for another session within the same summer,” said Kerrie Clos, the sailing program’s media relations coordinator. “They just have a great time. They get so comfortable so fast on those little boats.”
The camp, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, teaches kids the basics of sailing, including water safety, right of way rules, good sportsmanship, nautical knot tying, boating safety and etiquette, boat care and maintenance, boat handling and how to navigate race courses.
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“The kids love being independent, having their own boat,” Clos said. “Most of the kids man their own small sailboat. They love that independence and the maneuverability of the little boats. I also think they love capsizing it — tipping the boats over on purpose. I think they just love being out on the water with other kids.”
The camp has five instructors, who often use games to help teach course navigation. The most common game is to throw tennis balls to a spot and have the campers race each other to see who can collect it out of the water first. The kids are usually fast learners.
“They love the feeling of conquering a new skill within a few days,” Clos said.
It’s a fun time for the instructors, too, who get to interact with kids ages nine to 19.
“They just love this summer job of helping other kids learn what they know,” Clos said. “They’re so enthusiastic. I can just see how much they enjoy it. They’re just natural camp counselors; they make it fun for the kids while teaching them responsibility.”
The cost of the week-long camp is $320 per student and is open to youth ages 9 to 18. No sailing experience is necessary, just the ability to swim. Classes are taught by U.S. Sailing certified instructors out of the West Shore Marina on Harborview Drive. Discounts apply for siblings, returning students and family members of the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.
A high school sailing race team is available through the Junior Sail program. The race team is open to advanced sailors in grades eight through 12 who have gained intermediate skills. Practices are held in the harbor on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and racers will have the opportunity to attend weekend regattas.
To more information and to register for Junior Sail Camp or the race team, visit ghycjuniorsail.org or call 253-214-6131.