Maritime menus: New youth sailing camp at Pier 25 aims to motivate kids with lunch

Image via Atlantic Yachting
Kids at Pier 25’s Atlantic Yachting summer sailing camp must work together to use navigational clues to reach their destination — lunch.


A new adventure sailing camp will kick off its first season at Pier 25 next week, empowering kids to plot wind-powered forays to destinations up and down the Hudson — usually with an aim of getting lunch, according to the camp’s director

“We’ve found that lunch is usually the first question we get in the morning,” said Logan Rowell. “We’ll say, ‘Guess what? We’ve got 17 sailing lessons about how you’re getting to Chipotle today.’”

The new sailing camp, Atlantic Yachting, will debut with four twin-sail, 24-foot boats for a season lasting until the beginning of September.

Unlike other sailing camps, which feature smaller, more nimble boats and focus on racing techniques, Atlantic Yachting places a greater emphasis on navigation, plotting, and teamwork.

“Ours is not a racing camp, it’s more of an adventure camp,” Rowell said.

Instructors will give each four-member crew clues about their destination, and leave the kids figure out not only where they’re going, but the best way to get there, based on the wind, current, tide — and nearby dining destinations.

“They’re given a good base in terms of sailing skills and knowledge, but then we have them plan the day based on the current, and where they want to eat lunch.”

The crews themselves are comprised of sailors of various ages 8–15-years-old, forcing the young and the even younger to work together to achieve a fine midday meal. And they end up learning more than just how to trim a sail.

“We started doing clue-based stuff in the last few years that force kids to bring in other outside knowledge, decision making, and teamwork skills with kids of other ages,” said Rowell.

And the kids will alternate taking the lead on their nautical adventures, forcing the kids to share the burden of command — and the ultimate, fateful decision on where to grab a bite.

“The leaders of the crew are deciding ‘are we going to buy our lunch,’ and ‘is it realistic that we can walk somewhere and get food, or should we bring a cooler?’” said Rowell.

Atlantic Yachting won the contract from Hudson River Parks to operate the pier’s first sailing camp in March.

Their contract runs through to October, and the camp will also offer adult sailing lessons, in addition to after-school sailing for kids until the end of September, beyond which the sea becomes untenable for junior sailors.

If all goes well, the company hopes to renew its contract and expand the program for the next season, with more boats serving yet more budding sailors.