How this camp turns a sailboat into a STEM classroom

SEATTLE -- Sail Sand Point has offered summer camps for kids of all ages for years, but this summer they've added a new element: STEM learning.

A few years back, the national governing body of sailing, U.S. Sailing, realized a sailboat could be the perfect classroom for learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Since then, they've offered training for sailing programs all over the country to learn how to incorporate STEM learning into their camps and classes. Sail Sand Point is one of them!

We visited a recent session and found campers on shore learning how important it was to understand, for example, the area of their sail, (including how to measure) and what that means compared to the type of wind you're facing. It's just one of many STEM-related lessons instructors can choose from for a week of camp. Learning how to measure wind, for example, is another; there are 10 themes from the program, and instructors select a couple to focus on from that list for each session. It's the kind of lesson that strengthens the skills campers are learning on the water.

"I like how they're adding this in, because... kids learn a lot more and it's not just 'go out there and sail'," Miller, a 13 year old volunteer who did the camp himself in years past, told us. "You understand what you're doing while  you're sailing, and how it works. It's pretty cool!"

Understanding the 'why' of sailing strengthens the campers confidence on the water. "We give them the ability to build that self-confidence and those skills, and really be able to take charge and control it themselves," says Caroline Robertson, SSP's associate director. "It also gives them a sense of independence."

Day camps for kids of all ages are still available through the end of summer; and there are several locations, including Sand Point, Kirkland, Mercer Island, and Shilshole. Click HERE for more information and to register. Oh, and SSP offers lessons for adults, too!