Volunteers keep LWSC on course

Published 5:56 am Friday, July 23, 2010

Special to the Daily News

The Little Washington Sailing Club, in its second year running, continues to teach Washington-area children how to sail.
What is amazing about the club is that it runs largely on the work of volunteers.
Andrea Radford, the club’s leading instructor, highlighted the importance of the club’s volunteers.
“The entire program is run by volunteers; all the instructors are volunteers, except for me, and I think that’s what makes it unique,” she noted.
“We couldn’t run without them,” she said.
The club accepts volunteers of different ages. Dot Moate, the coordinator of the program, said that volunteers’ ages range from 18 years old to people in their 60s and 70s.
Josh Tippett, 18, the youngest of the volunteers, interestingly enough, was a student in the program last year. That was one of his reasons to serve as a volunteer this year.
“I think it’s pretty fun,” he said.
The volunteers come from all over the world, and some are locals. A lot of the volunteers are retired or semi-retired and have sailing backgrounds.
“They have a lot of knowledge from all over to give to the program,” said Radford.
Ken Baiker, an ex-soccer coach and father from Arizona, has been sailing for more than 15 years. He’s had experience sailing and instructing in places like Arizona and Mexico. He said he decided to become a volunteer instructor because he wanted to help the kids learn, and also because of his interest in sailing and his general love of sport.
“It’s fun. I like seeing the improvement in the kids — to see them learning the rules and different parts of boats as we go on.”
The kids also enjoyed the experience and commented on how great the volunteers are. Student William Archie said that the volunteers are really helpful.
“If you have a question they’ll help you,” he said.
Owen Edwards, another participant, said, “They teach us a lot. It’s not like they just say ‘Go out there and do it.’ They’re very involved and tell us how to do it the right way.”
Jacob Harris likes how the volunteers are nice.
“They don’t tell you your restraints. They let you make your own mistakes,” he said.
He added, “I couldn’t ask for better instructors.”
There are generally two volunteers per class, with four kids on average for each group. This means that the volunteers can work more closely with the kids. The small numbers allow the kids to feel more comfortable. It’s clear that Radford and the volunteers create a friendly and relaxed learning environment.
The club runs five two-week programs during summer, each with sessions in the mornings and afternoons. The club’s third program this summer ends Friday. The next course starts Monday with the final course starting two weeks after that.
The course costs $200 for a two-week session, morning or afternoon. Scholarships are available.
When asked the routine question of whether there are any negatives to his volunteer work, Tippett joked, “Definitely no negatives. Well, I guess getting hit by the boom hurts!”
Anyone interested in signing up for a two-week course should contact Beth Byrd, director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance, at 252-946-3969.