Voice Your Choice for Rocking the Boat

top2_enviro_vte_4  I just got an email from one of my favorite maritime / environmental / youth development nonprofits, Rocking the Boat. I’ve previously posted about them here and here.

The email was about an opportunity they have to win a grant from Patagonia, one of the coolest, most environmentally conscious and socially responsible organizations on the planet. The program is called Voice Your Choice and this is from their website:

Activism takes many forms, but you can cast a vote at your neighborhood Patagonia store this summer as one way to get involved in local environmental issues, show support for your favorite environmental group or just warm up for the November elections.

Each store will profile five groups that have done something extraordinary to help restore and protect the local environment. These groups have been our partners, helping us to further our stated mission to "build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

rocking-the-boat-logo-thumbRocking the Boat has some stiff competition in their neighborhood with Riverkeeper, Bronx River Alliance, Newtown Creek Alliance, and Solar One, all worthy organizations.

So if by chance you read this and live in their “neighborhood” which is New York City, stop by the Upper West Side Patagonia store and voice your choice!

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What I’ve been up to lately in Bermuda

37887aHere’s a link to another great article by Bermuda Sun senior writer Meredith Ebbin about the youth maritime education program that I’ve been working on for the past six months with Northeast Maritime Institute.

Course opens up waterways of the world for students (June 13, 2008 )

Here’s a link In case you missed Ms. Ebbins first article, Pilot programme to train young seaman (May 23, 2008 )

This is a very exciting project. Ten young men and one young woman, between the ages of 16 and 30, most of whom dropped out of Bermuda’s traditional education system, have embarked on an educational journey which will ultimately give them the knowledge, skills, experience, credentials and confidence to launch professional maritime careers at home or around the world.

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Educational Partner-Ships

I spent Sunday afternoon and had dinner with my good friend Caleb Pifer. ASTA board member Alix Thorne introduced us in 2002 while sailing aboard the tall ship Elissa in Galveston. As American Sail Training Association executive director I hired Cal as a high school student to be a summer intern the following year and several thereafter. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin last year, Cal joined the Concordia, a tall ship owned and operated by Class Afloat, a Canadian educational nonprofit and most recently he joined sister organization, American Foundation for Education Under Sail Inc. as director of development of their Educational Partner-Ships program.

From Educational Partner-Ships website:

    Educational Partner-Ships is the world’s only provider of tall ship–based educational voyages that utilizes your personalized program.

    Unique in the field of education is the “prescriptive programming” of Educational Partner-Ships. With Educational Partner-Ships, each partnering school shares in design and delivery. It is a school’s guarantee that institutional or departmental goals remain at the forefront of program development. Let Educational Partner-Ships do the leg work that ensures that your program is truly your program.

    Drawing on over thirty years of travel-study experience at sea, Educational Partner-Ships creates and delivers unparalleled learning opportunities aboard a variety of traditionally rigged sailing vessels.

    These learning opportunities may include:

    • Twenty Day January or Summer Terms

    • Three Week Intercessional Class Offerings (Spring and Fall)

    • Semester Long Programs

This exciting program is designed for colleges and universities that are interested in giving their students a unique experiential based academic program. I look forward to following Educational Partner-Ships promising future.

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The Tabor Boy Project Rounds the 100 Member Mark

The Tabor Boy Project logo Nearly a year ago I launched a website called The Tabor Boy Project. From the Welcome Aboard:

For over 50 years, the schooner Tabor Boy has taken young Tabor Academy students to sea under sail. This remarkable ship has played a significant role in helping Tabor Academy transform adventurous teenagers into confident young adults.

The Tabor Boy Project is a living history project and social network by and for Tabor Boy sailors and supporters. While it will help create and preserve the rich stories that make up the schooner’s history, it will also connect shipmates that have been “lost” for years.

On April 1, 2008, The Tabor Boy Project welcomed it’s 100th member, a 2007 Tabor Academy graduate. Members span 6 decades: from the 1950’s to current students. There are hundreds of wonderful photographs and sea stories that tell this amazing ship’s history.

None of this would have been possible just a few short years ago. Photos that languished in shoe boxes in the back of alumni closets have experienced a new life on the website gallery and long lost shipmates have been able to reconnect through the member pages.

Web 2.0 social media tools allow us to build communities around common causes, interests and passions. They allow us to reconnect and have meaningful conversations about things that are important to us. They also allow us to collaborate to capture history, experience and knowledge in ways previously unimaginable. The Tabor Boy Project utilizes the Ning social networking platform which is powerful, flexible, easy to use and inexpensive.

I believe that the most important part of these types of projects is setting a strategy and having a few catalysts who can help build excitement. I was lucky to enlist 2 of my shipmates, Captain Bob Glover and Jamie Hutton (pictured below) from the beginning to jump aboard and work hard to spread the word. It’s all part of that teamwork ethic that was integral to the sail training experience and which has been a major part of each one of our lives since the days we first stepped aboard the Tabor Boy.

The Tabor Boy Project is an independent project and not something created, authorized or maintained by Tabor Academy. It’s content is generated by its members all of whom lives were touched by positive experiences at the School by the Sea and the schooner. Despite this, The Tabor Boy Project has been incredibly fortunate to have received interest and support from Tabor Academy leadership. Interim Development Director Kerry Saltonstall has been a huge advocate for The Project. We really appreciate and benefit from her frequent mentions in the Tabor Alumni and Friends e-newsletter Currents. Each time it appear, there is a nice uptick in new members. Thanks Kerry!

On April 14th, The Tabor Boy Project will celebrate it’s first anniversary. If you are reading this and have any connection what so ever to the schooner Tabor Boy, please join us. The Tabor Boy Project is a website for everyone who has ever sailed or who just is interested in the great work this ship (and school) has done to transform adventurous adolescents into young adults.


Related posts:

The Tabor Boy Project – Storytelling and Living History

Flash Back – 31 Years Ago Today

The Privilege of Sailing

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Class Afloat – Adventure Education

I’m currently at the Ship Operators Cooperative Program’s (SOCP) conference on maritime education for primary and secondary schools at MITAGS and couldn’t find a more appropriate video.

I had the great fortune to spend my 4 years of high school sailing on a tall ship. If there was one educational sailing experience I could be jealous of, this would be it.

Check out the Class Afloat website for more info.

It’s tougher for kids to learn the hard stuff if they aren’t taught the soft stuff

Emotional Intelligence While the concept of emotional intelligence has been around for quite a while, it wasn’t until Daniel Goleman wrote the best seller Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ that the term became widely popularized.

Goleman writes a great blog appropriately called DanielGoleman.info which yesterday had an interesting post entitled Some Big News About Learning

Goleman wrote:

Here’s a sneak preview of some headlines that you’ll see in the next few months: teaching kids to be more emotionally and socially competent boosts their academic achievement. More precisely, when schools offer students programs in social and emotional learning, their achievement scores gain around 11 percentile points.

In the era of No Child Left Behind, where schools are rated on how well their students score on these tests, that’s a huge advantage for individual students and schools alike. And the gains are biggest in “at risk” kids, the bottom ten percent who are most likely to fail in their education.

That meta-analysis revealed that students improved on every measure of positive behavior, like classroom discipline, liking school, and attendance – and went down on rates for every anti-social index, from bullying and fights to suspensions and substance abuse. What’s more, there was a drop in numbers of students who were depressed, anxious, and alienated. And all these gains were in as impressive a range as those for academic achievement.

In recent years, people involved in the study and practice of leadership development have recognized the importance of fostering emotional intelligence skills. Managers who are not in tune with themselves and their reports will often have a more difficult time exercising effective leadership.  

It’s not really a huge leap to assume that the same concepts may apply to children learning. Now the Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning has provided us with the research to substantiate this through a significant study involving over 233,000 students across the country.

Goleman also writes:

Teaching students skills like self-awareness, managing distressing emotions and empathy makes them better learners, as Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, explained at the forum. He pointed to data showing that when the brain’s centers for distress are activated, they impair the functioning of the prefrontal areas for memory, attention and learning (a point I made in Chapter 19 of Social Intelligence). Social and emotional learning makes great sense, Davidson argues, because of neuroplasticity – the fact that repeated experiences shape the brain. The more a child practices self-discipline, empathy and cooperation, the stronger the underlying circuits become for these essential life skills.

Fritha I am currently involved in an exciting project at Northeast Maritime Institute where we are launching alternative high school maritime programs for at-risk youth in the US and internationally. A significant component of these programs will involve a sail training experience aboard our brigantine Fritha (right) or other sail training vessels. We believe that time aboard a tall ship, which can be an alien and challenging environment for young people, most often leads to increased self awareness and respect for self, others, ship and environment.

Anyone interested in the value and benefits derived from the sail training experience should read the research report, “The Characteristics and Value of the Sail Training Experience” conducted by The University of Edinburgh (June 2007) and sponsored by Sail Training International. (summary | download full report).

Being a product of a sail training program (visit The Tabor Boy Project), I am a firm believer in what these experiences can do to help adolescents make an effective transition to young adulthood.

Goleman ends his post with: “The more a child practices self-discipline, empathy and cooperation, the stronger the underlying circuits become for these essential life skills.” This captures the essential spirit of life aboard a tall ship and the sail training experience.

Related posts:

Tall Ship Semester for Girls – Changing Lives at Sea Under Sail

The end of the cadet program on Sloop Providence

Sail training diary – Week 2 – Sailing with Kids (Guest Post)

The Privilege of Sailing

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Massachusetts Maritime Academy Cruise – Online Adventures in Training at Sea

MMA banner_canal2canal

The Cape Cod Times set up a fantastic section on their website that follows Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s 2008 Sea Term Cruise. Canal to Canal: Sail Cape Cod to Panama with MMA is a collection of news stories, slide shows, video tours of T.S. Enterprise, interactive graphics and much more.

The Cape Cod Times have sent reporter Hilary Russ and photographer Steve Heaslip whose great photo slideshows in themselves tell the story.

MMA Panama Canal

There are three blogs each offering a unique perspective on the experience. Captain Thomas L. “Tom” Bushy writes Sea Term 2008: Captains Blog which covers all of the things that you would expect a master of a training ship to be focused on. Cape Cod Times reporter Hilary Russ writes short posts in The Portal that present a outside the experience perspective of life at sea with cadets. Russ posts often get a decent volume of comments, many from parents of cadets thanking her for keeping them informed. Last but certainly not least, 4th class cadet Christiaan Conover writes MMA Sea Term 2008 blog from the perspective of a young person going to sea for the first time on a commercial ship. Christiaan also has a personal blog and is on Twitter and you can follow him here. These 3 primary bloggers are able to paint a pretty rich picture of life aboard the T.S. Enterprise.


The Cape Cod Times has also done a great job with several interactive graphics and by integrating video by using YouTube like this:

Maritime schools take note. The Cape Cod Times has created THE BEST recruiting brochure you could ever ask for. The combination of constantly updated pictures, video and written material will appeal to a wide range of audiences. They’ve done all of this with pretty simple and many free web 2.0 tools. Here content is clearly king. The only thing I wish they had included is an RSS feed for Canal to Canal: Sail Cape Cod to Panama with MMA which would make it easier to keep up with updates.

Finally, on a personal note a very good friend of mine, Mark Barry, has a son aboard the T.S. Enterprise and he recently left a comment after listening to Episode 6 of our podcast Messing About In Ships. I’m sure as a parent he appreciate what the Cape Cod Times has done with their ongoing coverage of Sea Term 2008. Engaging parents, prospective students and other interested parties is so important to schools like Mass Maritime.

I’ll be following the ship’s progress now that I discovered this great resource.

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Young Bermudians get chance for careers at sea

Bermuda flagHere’s a link to an article entitled Young Bermudians get chance for careers at sea written by Tari Trott of the The Royal Gazette. It’s a great recap of what we were working on all last week in Bermuda.

This is a very exciting program which has strong support from both government and maritime interests on the island. As with all at risk youth programs, one of the biggest challenges could be recruiting participants. But, we are fortunate to be aligned with the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, the owners and operator of the beautiful new sail training vessel, Spirit of Bermuda.

Stay tuned for regular reports about what’s new with Northeast Maritime Institute’s new Maritime Apprentice Training and Employment (MATE) program which will be offered to youth locally and internationally.

Here’s an informative video about the Spirit of Bermuda and the Bermuda Sloop Foundation.

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Back From Bermuda

Sorry I haven’t posted lately but I’ve been in Bermuda all week working on an exciting youth maritime education, training and employment program. I previously posted on this here and will have more in the future.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of the brigantine Fritha which was my home for the week. She’s one of many amazing resources that we have at Northeast Maritime Institute. I’ll be developing some leadership and educational vacation programs for Buzzards Bay this summer. Send me an email if you are interested in learning more.

Fritha in Bermuda Jan 08

Fritha - looking aft (DSC_00731976)

Fritha - settee  pillows (DSC_00391945) Fritha - owners double berth (DSC_00381944) Fritha - Galley stove (DSC_01192022)

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If you want to build a ship…

If you want to build a ship
don’t herd people together to collect wood
and don’t assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the
endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Today I started a new job that I am very excited about. I joined Northeast Maritime Institute to, among other things, lead a new international maritime high school program for at risk underserved youth. The first is currently being launched in Bermuda but there are several others currently being charted around the globe. More on that as things develop.

I have written on many occasions about the benefits of maritime experiential education for youth. I am a product of this system and passionately believe in it’s power to positively influence young lives.

The programs that we are developing will (1) make sure that the young people complete a basic high school education or equivalent and (2) will be combined with a rigorous maritime training program from which these young adults will emerge with certified maritime credentials and a real good shot at lucrative career in the maritime industry. The most significant part of the program is the guarantee of career opportunities upon graduation. A tall order but one that we are charged up about and confident in meeting.

To me, the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quote captures the essence of what this program is all about. At the end of the voyage they may know how to sail the boat, but by graduation they will have learned and experienced so much more. 

I look forward to updating you from time to time on our progress.

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