Why Sailing, Windsurfing and Kiteboarding?

What is the net value?”  I have been asked.  It is a good question.  What do these “sports for the affluent” have to offer those who have really serious obstacles to overcome if they are even to survive to adulthood?  The sailors, kiteboarders or windsurfers with whom I have shared the vision seem to see the possibilities right away; riding the wind and waves has a way of changing perspectives and it is something we want to share, but most of them do not know where to start. 

Participants from Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation on a pilot run

Participants from Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation on a pilot run

David Kelly has invested the last 15 years in co-founding and running a center for peace and healing called Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods.  He has said, “We have too many youth who are operating out of a sense of not having any worth — that is pretty much what they have heard — and too many have bought into it. They have all experienced serious violence, and so are dealing with significant trauma and the effects that come with it.  So what you have are young people who are carrying a deep sense of shame, who are traumatized, who have nothing to do, and nowhere to go.”[1] He has also said, “Every kid in our neighborhood knows someone close to them who has been killed so little kids grow up not feeling invincible, but feeling vulnerable.”[2]

One sunny, windy, wavy morning this July we got to take some of the young men involved in David Kelly’s program out sailing along with their mentor as a pilot experience.  Through three outings on the boat each of them got a turn and some wanted to go out a second time despite the large waves.  One of them compared it to riding a roller coaster.  We built on the experience by running group problem solving/team building challenges during their turns on shore. 

As I talked with David Kelly afterward, he said, “They had a good time, some said they were a little scared, they were outside of their comfort zone which was a good thing.  They came back telling good stories so the younger group at the center wants to go sailing too.  Some of them were laughing as they showed pictures they had taken with their phones.  Overall, it was a good team building activity.”  When I asked them, most told me they would like to sail again and some were even interested in taking classes to learn how to sail.  We would really like to teach them along with the other content Carpe Ventus is developing!

It is important that young people learn how to pass tests on paper and on computers.  It is also important to learn how to pass real life tests in a completely foreign situation and to learn adaptive leadership.  These young men have daily, real life tests of survival, but we have the chance to provide a completely different category of challenge and along with it, a changed perspective about what could be.

Even with great intellect and education, if someone has no vision for the direction of their life and no sense of self-worth how can we expect something other than destructive results?  If you and I grew up surrounded by violence, where no one we knew had a job or college education, would our lives look like they do today?  If we only had a really lousy set of choices would we somehow set a good course in life?  Carpe Ventus is creating bridges between communities. This will add to the support network of the young people involved.

We are finding more and more organizations that are making a powerful impact in their communities.  They are responding with excitement to the opportunity to learn life principles and business skills through sailing.  They are saying this is the kind of thing they need to further strengthen what they are doing.  We are working hard to get all the resources and elements in place to be able to come alongside of them.  Thanks for helping us build

[1] Chicago Sun-Times 7/12/14 Stopping Violence Starts with Hope by John Maki.

[2] MSNBC Originals video Rochochet: Part 3: Who buys the guns?