For some 24 years, Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) has been offering broad access to the sport of sailing by providing facilities and sailing instruction to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, skill levels, and physical abilities. While the center continues to grow its programming to cater to the diverse needs of its community base, TISC’s “Set Sail Learn” program is still a mainstay and rocking and rolling like never before, notes Chris Childers, TISC Director.
“Registration for Set Sail Learn was launched at the beginning of the school year and filled up within 2 days for a total of 24 class spots taken this fall,” Childers noted. “TISC expects to see 600 students this fall and another 600 students in the spring as part of this program.”
A flagship initiative for San Francisco city fourth graders which is now in its 8th year, “Set Sail Learn” was launched by the St Francis Sailing Foundation and TISC, and since 2015 has successfully ushered thousands of kids through STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – learning both on the water through sailing as well as in a hands-on classroom environment at the Treasure Island Sailing Center. Fourth graders get to learn about all things related to San Francisco Bay as well as the basic principles of sailing, exposing many of the city’s children to the Bay for the first time which opens doors to learning in a stimulating, natural, and fun environment.
Next up, a relatively new program at TISC is a Leadership Program to engage young people in different aspects of sailing. Once teens have a set of foundational sailing skills, they can choose from one of three tracks to explore the world of sailing outside of their previous summer camp experiences: Learn to Race exposes young people to performance sailing techniques and introduces low stakes friendly competition in the form of dinghy racing; Learn to Teach helps young people gain the skills to help others learn the basics of sailing, and prepare to take the Level 1 Instructor Certification; and Learn to Day Sail gives sailors the skills to begin sailing keelboats and planning day trips to local destinations. In Summer 2023 TISC had 8 students in Learn to Teach, 8 Students in Learn to Race, and 5 students in Learn to Day Sail tracks.
“Teens and transitional age youth and young adults require a lot more social stimulation and project-based learning in order to stay engaged, so these classes all build in a lot of socialization and independent problem solving,” Childers said. “We are very proud of one of our sailors who has been a part of this program for the past two years and recently became employed by TISC through the Learn to Teach track. A 16-year-old BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) man, he was a non-sailor, with no family having had any experience on the water, and low water comfort himself. This summer he was our first sailor to get up on a trapeze, and this fall he is participating as an instructor in our Set Sail Learn program 3 days a week.”
Childers added that other highlights of the TISC summer Leadership Program included:
- Learn to Day Sail sailors getting to the Golden Gate Bridge in a J24 and turning and burning with the Symmetrical Spinnaker back to the sailing center.
- Learn to Race students participating in a High School Sailing Boot Camp, many of whom are not in high school yet but chose to sail to help the group train and get better.
TISC is also hosting two young ladies from the Life Learning Academy, the local on-island high school, as interns to support Set Sail Learn experiences. They are working to become student teachers for classroom lessons on Wind Power, Crab Ecology and Maritime History of San Francisco Bay to help students explore and understand the classroom activities. They also help TISC young sailors launch their boats, help students into life jackets and helmets, and provide a welcoming environment for visitors.
“TISC is incredibly grateful to the St Francis Sailing Foundation for providing support of our programs and operations,” Childers noted. “The impact that we can make on our community and our sense of connection to the Bay is made possible by the generosity of the Foundation and its supporters, and our entire community is appreciative for this support.”