The date was May 2017 and for those living in the South, that time of year translates to school letting out, and kids under our feet for the hot summer months ahead. Our son was just 10 years old- the perfect age where he thinks he can do everything on his own, but also that age where proper guidance is mandatory to keep an active young boy safe.
That summer was all about embracing Sailing Camp. Not exactly a comforting feeling for parents when looking at the large body of deep water looming in front of our young child. We tried not to have our minds think of what the dangers could be, but rather focus on the opportunity at hand. We’ve heard such fabulous stories from other Camp Parents, and our son wanted to have the same experiences as those children. Sure we want our child to have fun too, but let’s face it, we were worried about his safety.
As it turns out, we could have our cake and eat it too (yum!). That peace of mind for Noah, our son, was largely due to one particular Counselor: Mr. Austin.
Aside from the fist pump that Austin extended to Noah as he approached the Opti that first morning (A “fist pump” is truly all a 10 year old needs to gain confidence), it was a combination of three things that set Austin apart and gave us parents the confidence we needed.
Mr. Austin did the following:
- He greeted our son Noah by name. This was because Austin asked for a photo of Noah prior to the first day of camp. This counselor cared. He put forth a little effort and wanted to make a connection with each camper. Box checked. Calling a camper by name evokes an immediate sense of “belonging” (as evident by our child asking us to leave the premises practically immediately!).
- Austin then took the parents aside and we had a separate meeting while the campers were under the care of another counselor playing a fun ice-breaking game. During that meeting with Mr. Austin we parents learned of the counselor’s experience, credibility, certifications, and personal experience with sailing (in this case, participating in many over seas events) Yes, Mr. Austin made us feel at ease. Just a few minutes of “Education” and that “Safety” box was once again checked for the parents.
- Every day Mr. Austin greeted Noah by name, and then wished him well as their daily sailing adventures came to a close. Throughout the day, jokes were told, smiles were shared, and engagement with the campers was evident. These little campers formed their own impressions with their counselors, and no doubt with a counselor who sets an ease of environment for a camper, earns that camper’s trust. With trust, the ability to learn the proper techniques of sailing are more readily absorbed and a new skill is learned. Once again, the Safety Box was checked, our #1 priority.
What’s next? No doubt our family will we be returning to Sailing Camp in 2018. Oh, and by the way, Mr. Austin “Fist Pumps” for the parents as well.
Summer 2018…We Can’t Wait!
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