This summer we provided tuition-free sailing adventures for new groups of Gold Star teens and two returning teens. This year we also included Blue Star teens, as the separations they have experienced is something all the teens understood. We had perfect weather and enjoyed some exciting sails. One day we sailed from Northport to Charlevoix and the boys’ group enjoyed sailing under the drawbridge as it stopped traffic and opened up for us. On another sail we practiced a man overboard drill when the captain’s hat blew overboard. All the teens learned to raise sails, coil lines, tend sheets, and take a turn at the helm.
In the evenings Perception was docked at the beautiful G. Marsten Dame Marina in Northport, Michigan. The kids were free to enjoy the Boater’s Lounge, watch TV, charge their phones, or take a shower. There was a beautiful beach nearby, and many unique shops that the girls group explored. Dinners were a cookout in the adjacent park, food and bowling at Tuckers, and a bonfire with pizza after a hike to the top of Braman Hill. Our teens had plenty of time to relax, get to know each other, and share feelings and experiences.
Here are a few of the comments we received from them after they returned home:
- “The thing about this program I liked best was being able to share how your loss affects you and hear other people’s stories. My new friends, the captains and the crew are all amazing people and I look forward to seeing them next year.”
- “I enjoyed being a part of the program because I can connect with people who are in similar situations as I am.”
- “I also that this program not only honors the Gold but also the Blue, both are affected by loss whether it’s a parent gone all the time due to service and tours or a parent who has passed . . .”
- “What I liked best was knot tying–it was very soothing.”
- “The captains and crew were great, they taught me a lot of stuff I didn’t know. They are great teachers and fun to be around.”