Sailing Overnight Through The Ages Of Youth Pt I

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In a few days my boys will be going away for a school overnight. The house will be quiet, the cats will be lonely, my husband and I will have to talk to one another.

This is no ordinary overnight, though. This is a Milestone trip, one of several that occur during the life of a student at our K-8 charter school. They will be challenged, tested with feats of endurance appropriate for their ten-year-old status, required to build new skills as they navigate the waters of youth that will get pretty choppy at times.

This trip is called the Age of Sail – a program produced by the San Francisco Maritime Park Association. They will be driven up to San Francisco, to Hyde Pier where they will board the Balclutha, a three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged ship built in 1886. The year 2010, as they know it, will end.  They will be required, for approximately 18 hours, to live the life and character of sailors (or “lads,”) not once able to stray back to their 21st century personas, refer to an adult (who are committed to silence,) or even get a full night’s sleep as crews take turns on the nightwatch.

There will be no safety nets.

No reminders, no nagging. Just natural consequences as failures in team thinking, collaborative working and personality differences rise up. Ah yes, perhaps they will learn that mommy was right all along…

When they first learned the identity of their fellow crew members, there were tears, breasts were beaten, teeth were gnashed. They weren’t…with their friends.

It was hard to tell them that that was the point.

That this is an opportunity to learn critical thinking, group problem-solving and cooperative learning skills.

Over time, their angst at this travesty has watered down and been replaced with sea shanty duets, knot tying practice with their new skipping ropes and, much to my amazement, plans to get to sleep early the two nights prior to their trip.

They will come home cold probably, tired undoubtably, proud hopefully. This will be a challenge for my two. No books, no World of Warcraft, no chocolate dessert. But I’m a firm believer in limits, consequences and character building. And doing research into topics my husband might be interested in talking about.

Read how it is for me when they are both away and how they are on their return in parts two and three.

Have your kids been on an overnight? How was it for you? Let me know in the comments!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary May 20, 2010 at 11:20 am

This sounds really wonderful, Alison! good luck to the boys, and you <3

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alisongolden May 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Thanks, Mary!

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Lisa D.B. Taylor June 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

Sounds like a great overnight! It’s something I’d love for our family to do. It’s hard though – that first overnight (for parents at least ) I worry the entire time and my husband reassures me. It seems a transition time, (ie: my losing a bit more control time), and I hate it! {Not that I’m a control freak or anything :-)}

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Alison Golden August 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

Oh I totally agree, Lisa. I am fairly relaxed mom, I try to get out of my own way and talk to myself a lot, but I’m very glad when they get back home safely.
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