I have literally spent 4 weeks in a row in my windsurfing school at Salty Wave, Schinias beach, coaching children and adults with only two half days off. I have logged in more than 80 hours of coaching on the water and I must say that currently, my balance on a windsurfing board is slightly better than my balance when lying in bed at night!
This month I have fallen in love with children. They have such a good vibe and I must say I’ve never had so much fun during a windsurfing session. These little people are helping me evolve the fun aspect of learning to windsurf through inventing new games to keep their enthusiasm and attention! *Hint: these games include various challenges and diving as well!
In this blogpost I want to talk about this years’ Sail Camp in Schinias. This camp has been inspired by Vaggelis Papanikolaou, a father whose daughter has been in the optimist (sailing) team in Schinias for a few years now. The Sail Camp has been growing in numbers year to year and this summer we had over 40 kids visiting the facility between 19-23 and 26-30 June to practice watersports.
Our kids Sail Camp is a great way for children to get introduced to the sports of sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddling and canoe in a social environment. The 5-day camps include practicing sailing skills on the water, snack time, games on the beach, wind theory, safety on the water as well as balance skills – especially for the sports of windsurfing and stand-up paddling where the rider has to balance on their two feet on the board. One thing is for sure: this camp enriches the life of these children in many ways than any parent who isn’t there to watch can ever imagine.
During the months of June and July – after schools close and before a family goes on vacation – parents want their children to take part in a camp. The goal is simple; they want to keep them occupied during the day. Our Sail Camp isn’t like any other camp though – it’s not just another way for children to pass their time. It’s a camp where we employ all the necessary tools for children to achieve great things on the water. Our goal is to empower children, not just fill their day.
With 10 hours of instruction on the water over a five day period with our team of energetic and experienced coaches, we teach kids 7-12 years old what watersports are all about. The kids are split in the following stations, each one with separate coaches that specialise in the activity: sailing, windsurfing, stand-up paddling, canoe.
Being the one responsible for the activity of windsurfing, I must say that I am amazed by how much children enjoy windsurfing and on how difficult and rare it is for children at the age of 8 or 10 to get the chance to try this fantastic sport. Which is such a a pity.
The equipment available in the school is youth sized rigs, specifically designed for young windsurfers. Sail sizes start at 1.0m and go up to larger sizes of 3.0m or more (for ages 12+). Masts and booms are lightweight, so kids can uphaul the sail themselves and have fun on the water.
What I found extremely interesting this time is how important it is for children to learn a new sport AND make new friends at the same time. This is a big confidence booster and it has been such a joy to see them evolve as they discover the joy and freedom of windsurfing. I did my best this year to make it all play to them and I made sure they went away from our camp stronger, more confident and with enthusiasm to continue windsurfing for the rest of the summer.
The future of any sport belongs to the children and after this years’ camp I am even more committed to share my love for the sport with young people. Watching the enthusiasm on their faces and inventing new ways to have fun with them on the water is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role as a windsurfing coach.
I would like to extend a big thanks to Vaggelis (the organiser) for the inception of the idea, the facility for hosting us, my fellow coaches for leading by example and showing me new ways to evolve as a coach and all those lovely little people who challenged us every day on and off the water. I would also like to thank Aqua Marina and Unigreen S.A. for sponsoring us with SUP boards to train on the water during the camp.
Stay tuned for pictures and video from our Sail Camp.
Looking forward to the next one!