Join Date: Nov 2006
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I have managed (with some degree of success) to get a few kids into dedicated sailing, along the course of the years, in fact some are now sailing Optimists and other boats on their own.
I can tell you, that pretty much all of those kids still sail today. What I do, is simple, I let them get interested into doing it, not by pushing them into it, not by making them follow me or see me sailing for hours (they think that is boring), but rather let them do what they want, the way they want. It might take several days, but you will see results. Let them be kids, not grown ups.
Its simple, if its a kid that has never sailed, I go slow and easy the first times, I mix them with kids that sailed before, and ask them to play around, then I get them interested and confortable with being on a boat that is heeling and going fast, by making them "feel important", request them to do stupid little things, like "hey hold on the wheel here for 20 seconds, see that thing there?? point at it..., but stay there with them", or hey "you´re the right guy to hold this line"..." ok guys everyone seat on the side so we can go faster "....etc. Make them do things, that although insignificant to you, are a big deal to them, and encourage them. Kids are very smart, and if you empower them, you succeed, just keep them occupied doing things they enjoy (do not make them work for you, getting you drinks, making sanwiches, cleaning bilges or stuff you don't want to do, keep them outside).
Gradually, you will feel the kids grow more confident and soon they will want to take the rudder on their own. Play with them "who tacks better"..or who sheets faster...
a)fall in their little "I'm scared games", that is BS they are giving you, as an excuse because they are not having fun
b) make them work for you
c) tell them to sit and hold on or be still
d) show them you are not having a good time
e) boss them around
be creative with them, make the boat look like a toy for them, a tool to play, not the focus of the activity...
Hope this helps, its wonderfull to sail with kids, I do it a lot.