ENGLEWOOD — Billy DeRoover, 15, is a ninth-grade student at Port Charlotte High School. Last year, his mother signed him up to go to Englewood Sailing Association sailing camp, and now he’s helping to teach younger kids what he’s learned.
“It’s very rewarding teaching little kids,” DeRoover said. “I’ll probably be doing something with boats when I finish with school.”
ESA wrapped up its largest camp ever Friday, according to ESA president Hugh Moore.
“We typically max out at 18 students, but we grew it to 22 students for not only this camp but for the July camp as well,” Moore said. “Registration for that is closed and has been full for a while. This camp is going extremely well and it was a real test of our organizational abilities, our planning abilities, to take on four additional students and make it work.”
Joe Chan, a certified sailing instructor, has been with ESA since 2008.
“Everyone has fun,” Chan said. “All the kids learn a lot. Sailing is the best way to build character.”
Chan, who is also the organization’s photographer, said sailing helps children develop as they learn more responsibility the longer they’re at sea.
“Kids are normally too dependent on their families,” he said. “Being out on the water teaches them independence.”
Tatem Loucks, 12, was signed up by her father when he heard about the camp from the YMCA.
“I decided to do sailing because I love the ocean,” Loucks said. “I thought it would be really fun. This is my first sailing camp. I will definitely come back.” Moore said out of his 15 young volunteers, 12 are certified to coach.
“It’s been wildly successful beyond our expectations and it’s thanks to all our volunteers, including our young coaches who help make it work,” Moore said. “We got three of our coaches and junior instructors we’re losing to graduation and are going away to college. It’s a continual process of getting young kids in, getting them trained, working them as sailors and letting them go on with their life.”
Despite the flow of the young and eager volunteers, Moore said there’s still a need for more qualified and certified adults to help provide guidance.
“We like to encourage anybody who has an interest and a passion for working with kids, to teach them to sail and help kids develop,” Moore said. “We may expand next year if we can get more people.”
All volunteer instructors have to pass a background check, he said.
“We’re working closely with the Y. If we can get the right people in the right places at the right time, then next year, we’ll possibly run another camp,” Moore said.
For more information, go to http://www.englewoodsailing.org or call 941-257-8192.