VIEW FROM THE MARINA: Chartering's Summer School Curricula
View from the Marina
Chartering’s Summer School Curricula
By Barb Hansen
May 3, 2004
I’m told about one million American children are home schooled. A couple of years ago I met two of them when the Crumpler family of Atlanta came to North Fort Myers and spent three days on one of our boats.
When they returned home Mrs. Crumpler assigned her students their real homework. Her 13-year-old daughter wrote, designed and published a magazine article on her computer. Her 10-year-old son wrote a term paper about what he learned on the boat. You can bet that they learned a lot more because the learning was fun.
Back home in Indiana when I was growing up summer school was the worst thing that could happen to a kid. Today, though, as I think about it, it seems to me there is an opportunity for school-age kids to think of summer school in a fun, new way. Instead of trudging off to an old school building and trying to stay focused on a dull textbook, students could start their school days aboard a charter yacht cruising the beautiful barrier island paradise of Southwest Florida.
In a long summer day, there is plenty to learn and every bit of it is fun.
Astronomy. Astronomy class is held on the forward deck when the stars come out. Away from the lights of the cities the stars and planets shine bright. Each student (teachers, too!) finds a comfortable place to lie down with his or her head on a cushion. Identify planets and stars. Talk about nebulae. Count shooting stars.
Nature and Marine Biology. This class is held on the bow just before lunch when the sun is high and its rays light up the bottom. Students lean against the bow rail and look for huge rays hiding in the sand. Soon a dolphin or maybe two will appear and start surfing the bow wave. On another day marine biology class can be held on the shore with young biologists searching for exotic shells and sharks teeth. Ask the captain to pull into the marina at ‘Tween Waters Inn where students can pet the resident manatee, Mr. Jimmy Buffett. Be sure to bring along a few of the many reference books about dolphins, manatees, fish, birds, shells and more.
History: Students of a certain age are fascinated by the age of pirates. In the U.S. there is no better place than Southwest Florida where Jose Gaspar the famous pirate did his evil deeds and brought the treasures home to Joseffa, his wife (or significant other; we’re not sure). Useppa Island is named after Joseffa. You can go there and even lead a field trip to the Useppa Island Historical Museum
Geography and geology: Where does sand come from? How did barrier islands like Sanibel and Captiva get formed and when? How are they changing?
Writing. When our nieces cruised with us recently, I assigned them the job of “roving dock reporters” for our company newsletter, THE YARDARM. They interviewed dockmasters, took pictures, and wrote stories about their experiences. Just between us they didn’t even know it was really a homework assignment in disguise. After all, it was spring vacation. After dinner, your boat-schooled students are not going to be watching their favorite TV sitcoms. That’s when you bring out pens and paper so everybody can write letters to their friends or make a daily entry into their cruising journal.
Reading. There are countless reading choices, depending on your young matey’s age. For younger children A Swim through the Sea is a charming story and beautifully illustrated. For young explorers there is Pirates and Buried Treasure, full of tales of the pirates who once sailed our local waters; or bring along the classic Treasure Island. To bring these tales to life you can stage your own “treasure hunt” when you dinghy ashore to one of the hundreds of remote islands on your route. Teens on board may want to immerse themselves in another voyage – the voyage described in Mutiny on the Bounty plus two other stories that make up the Bounty trilogy. No cruise is complete without Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. What could be better than reading tales of the sea while living and cruising board a private yacht?
Art/photography. A cruise inspires our artistic side. So let those young, natural talents emerge. Make time during the day for a photo contest or for sketching. Study the cloud formations and encourage imaginations to find faces.
Arithmetic. Students can help our captain set a compass course or calculate arrival times.
Recess. Absolutely, you must schedule recess and lots of it. At this school, recess can include swimming, diving and snorkeling right from the transom of the boat.
I think we’ve got a strong start on an official summer school program for the 2004 summer semester at Southwest Florida Yachts. What do you think?