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Looking for an altruistic soul with personal experience launching and/or administering a community or school youth sailing program who would be willing to share their work product. Specifically, a budget and/or a pitch deck. As costs vary by region, resources, and aspiration, I'm more interested in defining the budgetary line items than the dollar figures attached to them; I would be happy to have a file even with the numbers stripped out. Volunteering my time to help my kids's school develop a sailing program based on Oppys. (No Oppy-hating, please.) 

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Hi,

         Not sure how relevant this will be but you can ignore it if it's not!

 I run the Oppy programme at my local club. It's a shoestring affair and we "leverage" lots of other resources. The resources we use look something like:

   1. Building and beach

  • Sailing club changing rooms, kitchen for hot-chocolates etc
  • Beach access at club

   2. Ribs (easily the biggest challenge)

  • We have access to the club's ribs. No charge to the programme. For a small group of beginners one rib is OK, two is better. For every group of ~six we use another rib and coach+crew. Small ribs work well, big ones are unwieldy.

   3. Boats

  • We have some plastic "training Oppies"- the horrible moulded bathtubs with sleeved sails. We use them for the new beginners. They are only useful for the first few sessions but are practically indestructible, so they save proper Oppies being dinged up. Once the sailors can make progress upwind (only takes a few sessions) they need to move on to a proper boat: the club has a couple of proper "racing Oppies" which the  progressing sailors can have use of for a while. They are encouraged to buy their own boats early.

   4. Volunteers

  • Parents are required to stay at the club and help run the sessions. It is not an "activity" that they drop their kids off at for a couple of hours. We accommodate parents sharing their parenting responsibilities but it's the parent's responsibility, not the programmes. 
  • Whoever is running the session needs to be suitably qualified and experienced. I'm finding this difficult, as there seem to be few people that tick the boxes: Qualification for us is an RYA certificate (Race Coach Level-2 or Dinghy Instructor)- this needs a basic Power Boat certificate, an approved first aid certificate and child protection registration. Neither qualification covers the teaching method we use for Oppie-age kids (~5-10 yo), and a bit of experience is needed to understand how to help kids this young learn and to run an exciting but safe session.
  • The racing sessions can be run by experienced older kids, as long as you have the right ones. It can be reassuring to have a clueful parent in the rib as crew. Some kids should not be let loose in a rib.

That's about it. There's a stack of context behind this, so feel free to come back with questions. I've tried to focus on the requirements, above,  rather than explanations.

 More waffly stuff:

    It's good to have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve. My objective is quite narrow- I want to get young kids sailing early so that they can join the national dinghy racing setup and race successfully if they and their parents want to. Alongside this, I want to encourage local families to join, and existing family members to get involved in, the club. There is another club quite nearby that runs a summer programme teaching slightly older kids to sail by running weekly courses: they get a LOT more kids on the water than I do but it's more an activity than a vocation. There is race training available from the national body here from an early stage, so I aim to get sailors to the level that they can join this and then they can take it as far as they want. Target age group is about 7yo to 11yo, I suppose, but I'm happy to take a relatively confident and capable 5yo. Older kids are generally better served by a more formal course over a couple of weekends, as they'll get the theory & drills and learn more.

 Locally, I would encourage bigger kids (say, over 40Kg) to move into a bigger boat (RS Feva or Topper, most likely) rather than trying to sail an Oppy.

 Rib ratios: Our weather is very variable and the water usually cold, so the constraint with the coach+rib to student ratio is tight. Even a modest squall can require most kids to need urgent attention. General guidance is looser than this and with older kids you can coach from another dinghy with safety cover.  This works better with dry boats (Topper, Lasers etc) than Oppies because you can capsize them in a group to talk to the sailors on upturned hulls.

Volunteers: Most qualified people will try to teach the young kids theory, the programme seems to work better if we show them the minimum practical activity and then create an environment where they can learn.  It's much easier to get older kids qualified than parents, as they will be able to use those qualifications for summer jobs and coaching opportunities. You tend to lose them just as they are getting useful, though, as they scoot off to University or full-time work when they get to 18 and can supervise a session...

I try to run three groups- new beginners, can reach and tack, race training. Half a dozen sessions of an hour or two is generally plenty to move them up a group, if the weather cooperates.

 Obviously, the older kids can get a lot by contributing back to the programme: if they've been through race training they will have all the relevant skills themselves, as long as they can pass them on. They can benefit from learning to use the ribs, get qualifications, teaching experience, practical experience with laying marks, setting race courses, looking after the gear, planning sessions for the kids etc.

 I don't charge for the sessions, they are "free" to club members. I aim to make it "parent led" training, not a "sailing course". No-one can complain that they are not getting their money's worth and it's clear they should be helping. If a kid is cold, tired, scared or all three, they can go back to the parent without disrupting the session, so the coach can focus on the others. Sessions are short because young kids will get tired and bored quickly. Parents and kids are strongly encouraged to set up the boats and pack them away themselves.

 Hope this is helpful, though I appreciate it's not exactly what you were asking for!

 Where are you and what type of school is this? Are you aiming to set up an adventure activity or a race programme? If a race programme, will it be internal, with other schools or with a view to joining wider competitions? If it's an adventure programme, can you provide a route into cruising dinghies/keelboats as they outgrow the Oppies? What resources can you leverage at your local water? Who will store and maintain the ribs?

 My advice would be to focus on the rib(s) initially, as the key enabler to the activity. In most cases a safety boat will be expected to be present and coaches will need to have access to one to be effective. I know it seems to be coming at the proposal from the wrong direction but in my environment it's impractical to operate without access to reliable ribs. This means somewhere to store them safely (petrol storage regulations?) and securely (theft is rife). Insurance, maintenance, fuel provision, replacement strategy(!), contingency in case of damage (you don't want to have to write off a season due to a grounding). I've looked into this from several angles (clubs, charter, parents, coaching body) and it's a headache. Be careful with insurance: you need to be sure that whoever is driving the rib is covered. If you don't own a rib you will probably struggle to get cover for one. If you are lent a rib, it will need to be insured for coaching, possibly for charter, and the driver will need to meet the insurance company's requirements. Who will cover the excess (deductible?)  in the event of a claim? 

 If you can get this sorted then the rest will follow. Good luck, have fun and come back with questions... :-)

Cheers,

               W.

 

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Excellent excellent advice on all fronts.

This part isn't about budgeting -but-

3 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

...     ...      ... Volunteers: Most qualified people will try to teach the young kids theory, the programme seems to work better if we show them the minimum practical activity and then create an environment where they can learn. ...     ...     ...
 

Doing stuff is fun and interesting and kids learn by doing. Sitting around looking at diagrams and getting lectures on theory is boring and they often take away nothing-zip-nada. The sailing instructor is not so much a teacher as a stage manager. You're setting the stage for them to play around with boats and step by step go from mystifed to capable; without getting hurt. This means letting them make mistakes too, which is difficult to watch.

The only thing we did, which WGW didn't mention above, is publicity. We had a small budget for printing and advertising.

His advice about ribs (don't fart around with anything else unless you really and truly can't get a rib) is spot-on. My tip: Don't waste volunteer hours. They are your most precious resource.

Good luck, it's a very rewarding venture

FB- Doug

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I’ll be following this thread as I am looking to do something similar. I don’t mean to hijack your thread but from what I could find, the biggest issues were certifications and insurance. Sadly, my local YC is unhelpful and profit driven. Could someone hold a free parent driven sailing lessons with tips provided by experienced sailors without delving into all the red tape?

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17 minutes ago, OutofOffice said:

I’ll be following this thread as I am looking to do something similar. I don’t mean to hijack your thread but from what I could find, the biggest issues were certifications and insurance. Sadly, my local YC is unhelpful and profit driven. Could someone hold a free parent driven sailing lessons with tips provided by experienced sailors without delving into all the red tape?

Where? Is this in a lawyer-friendly environment? 

  Who would get sued if someone got hurt? If they came after the club, then it would need it's insurance to back it... that's probably who will you need to get approval from....

 Around here, when sessions are scheduled or regular... e.g. they make it into the calendar, so that people know when to turn up, then they are effectively club activities... if you just arrange to meet informally with a group of parents that know each other,  that could be different... you will still need to check the insurance of your safety cover,  though... you can't rely on club insurance for a rib driver without ticking their boxes... and if it's a parent owned rib, again you will need to check it's covered for coaching, with whoever ends up driving on the day...

Cheers, 

               W.

 

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7 minutes ago, WGWarburton said:

Where? Is this in a lawyer-friendly environment? 

This is in small town Texas. I had given up on the local YC and any assistance from them. (Insurance, ribs, youth boats, marks, anything) Because they are the only people around, that places myself and a few others in a position of wanting to do something for the kids here, yet having none of the “required” stuff to run a proper youth program. Getting Training boats is doable. Chase boats is doable (although they’d be last resort as we have a shallow area that we are considering that the kids would have a difficult time sailing out of) but everyone still says we need certification and insurance. (First aid, CPR, etc is covered as we do have a paramedic amongst us) So be it, I understand. A parent of a hurt kid is a force to be reckoned with. I was just wondering if we were missing something. We just wanted to give kids the opportunity to see what it’s like and to allow parents to join in and teach their kids a life skill.

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I ran the junior program for our local club for a few years.   PM me with an email address and I'd be happy to share our budgets with you.   Insurance is a big requirement, and if you are running this as part of a school program, I'd contact the school administrator who handles their insurance first to ensure that they are even willing to consider the program.  They may need to have a separate policy written for the sailing program, not all insurers will cover a sailing program.   

Keep in mind that there is a big difference liability-wise between running a program where parents will pay for instruction, versus a group of parents getting together to volunteer to teach kids (their own and possibly others) to sail in their own or borrowed boats.  In the former case, any organization that sponsors a paid junior sailing program should insist on it being fully insured, and the insurance firm will require that it is professionally run.   In the latter case, the parents need to decide how much liability they are willing to personally accept.

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The way we approached the liability issue is to form an association in which everybody paid dues and everybody signed both a statement of their responsibilities and a waiver of liability. 100% member-driven, 100% volunteer, anybody who sued an instructor or boat operator would be suing themselves.

Needless to say this didn't last long as a few lawyers joined and said "this is unacceptable." Now we have the US Sailing liability insurance which is a major burden on a small group (~$2500/yr plus about $90/student IIRC).

I went and got a US Sailing instructors certificate to start, and their Level 1 Instructor course is quite good IMHO...... depends on the individual teacher of course. This no longer includes the motorboat operator certification which you need to get seperately.

IMHO it's basically a money mill. Who benefits from liability insurance, the lawyers- now if somebody sues the group of which they are a part themselves, and bear responsibility for, they and their lawyer are likely to get an out-of-court settlement from the insurance company. A bone to the participating clubs is that they can charge whatever they want (whatever the traffic will bear) for hosting instructor courses. Again IMHO this is one big reason (out of several) why sailing is floundering in the US.

If you can get boats, and have a suitable area, tell the club to go fuck themselves and start it up. Sailing is a hoot, and kids catch on pretty quick. I am a true believer in the philosophy that it's good for them too, but don't tell them that.

FB- Doug

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13 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

IMHO this is one big reason (out of several) why sailing is floundering in the US.

Agreed. It is more pronounced in small towns like mine. Sailing is seen as a rich activity, that’s not a new problem, but especially when it comes to our youth I think it’s a problem. Add to that, atleast here locally, the view of sailors as pretentious and arrogant. (Our local sailors don’t help)

I will be starting a home build Opti for a summer father/son project early July and will be using it to show this can all be done easier than they think. No 3 thousand dollar Optis, No YC politics, No B.S. Just a good time with your kids and a good time on the water.

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The future of our sport depends on folks like you having the drive to engage the next generation of sailors.  Whether it be one-on-one volunteer sessions, or organized, fee based junior programs, if we don't get kids hooked on sailing when young, it will be tough to keep the sport alive in the next generation.    We are competing for time & money with the well organized team sports leagues (soccer, football, hockey), so it is not easy.   But most people on this forum have been bitten by the bug and understand the drive to share it.  Nicholas Hayes's book "Saving Sailing" is a great read for anyone interested in promoting youth sailing, and keeping our sport vibrant in general.

Our local club has a great little program,  and we enjoy terrific support from the board and most of the members.  I say most, because there  are some who don't understand why the club subsidizes the program to the tune of a few thousand dollars per year.   Our program covers all of its variable costs (instructors, supplies, and depreciation on the sailboats), but it does not cover all of the costs for the land, docks, and motorboats.   Ie, we could not run it as a stand alone sailing school and break even.   But the supporters are the great majority, and it was tremendously satisfying to get photos from members of the kids enjoying themselves on the waterfront.   To these members, the kids added vitality to their club and to the sport, and it was a reminder to them of why they loved the sport in the first place.   I got about a letter a week from members, most of whom I did not know, thanking me for volunteering to run the program and ensuring our club remained vibrant.   These were not parents, just members observing the junior sailors as they used the club.  And yes, I would get a few emails a season from grumpy members asking me to try to keep the kids backpacks stored more neatly, or to have them not play Frisbee on the parking lawn during lunch.   Oh well, you can't make everyone happy!

So please, keep trying to get our kids involved in sailing.  Racing, cruising, messing about, the format doesn't matter.  Once they are hooked, they will gravitate to the part of the sport that appeals to them most!

 

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Many thanks for the thoughtful and supportive responses above, especially to WGWarburton for taking time to outline all that good advice. I sincerely appreciate it. Champlain Sailor, the book recommendation looks spot on.

We are located in Thailand in a place with remarkably supportive weather and water, which makes things easier. Litigation risk is low here, though being set up in a school environment means both basic ethics and common sense suggest similar safety and insurance practices as you'd expect to see in the West. 

The program would be built on the back of an outdoors/adventure curriculum, but would hopefully develop into a competitive athletics activity competing locally and regionally. There are a lot of sailing parents in the school and there is strong support from the administration, but we are starting from square one.

I'm keen to hear any advice as to how to motivate parents be accountable for their family's participation and support. I worry that if the program is considered merely an amenity provided by the school, then parents may not adopt the program, reliably turn up, pitch in, write the occasional check in support, and so on. I'm focusing on this aspect because I believe that if enough parents and students regularly turn up enthusiastically to participate, then the school will put its time and resources into ensuring its a success. 

Thanks in advance for your experience and ideas!

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I would refer back to my original post and seek to get parents involved in delivering the sessions. Especially if you can get the ones who can sail engaged. Parent's should help to get boats out, assist or encourage the sailors to rig and tune them (not do it for them), then help onshore (especially when the sailors are new to it). They can crew safety boats and any that have powerboat experience can help to drive, which increases your coaching options and reduces the number of coaches you need...

 eg... If you have small kids (say 8yo), session one involves them beam reaching out to a rib, then they get caught, turned around and sail back to shore... You need someone on shore to set them up, someone in the rib to catch and turn. If there's a big group, then some will go astray, so a second boat can wait downwind to catch them and bring them back while the session continues for the others.

 Parents should be around to field any kids that refuse to get involved (cold? scared? tired?), so the coach can continue teaching others and not have to babysit.  They should also pack up boats, gear, marks etc... The atmosphere should be collaborative, with people pitching in to help.

 Once you have some sailors, get some informal racing going, with parents racing their own dinghies on handicap against the Oppies- short courses, average lap racing, Lasers to do (say) three laps against Oppies doing two (what do the mothers sail?), then results calculated against PY. In most cases the kids should be able to win against the adults much sooner than the adults expect!! Especially if you can hook into the regional racing you refer to.

 Pitch it as a sailing club at the school, not as school sailing. Try very, very hard to get one-design racing, so the parents all buy the same boat, just like the kids... whatever's popular in your area... RS200s? Aeros? Lasers? Enterprises? If there's a bunch of folk already sailing something nearby, try and talk to them about building that class instead of starting over... 

 Be inclusive- make sure non-sailing parents see that they can help on-shore, get skilled up quickly (courses?) if they need to,  and have fun getting involved...

  Key is to enthuse them! It's fun! It's exciting! All of us will be better people because of it! Summer jobs for kids, independence! leadership! self confidence! It's all a wonderful opportunity!

Cheers,

               W.

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Thanks, Flying Shoes, for the additional background on the school.  I think it is important at the outset to set some goals and objectives for the program with parents who are committed to supporting it.  Some programs focus just on teaching sailing, others on racing, and others just on fooling around near the water.  None of these is 'bad' or 'wrong'.  However, I've seen several programs falter because parents and/or administrators had very different goals for what they wanted the program to be.  Figure out what your goals are, do you want kids from your school placing well in the regional Opti regattas?   Do you simply want to hear the laughter of kids chasing each other around your local cove?   Two years down the road, how will you evaluate if you have 'succeeded' or not?   This will help guide you toward what type of program you want to structure.

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Lots of good advice above. "Two years down the road, how will you evaluate if you have 'succeeded' or not?" That's a clarifying question if ever there was one!

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