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Image Credit: Yuri Dojc
[Sail Georgian Bay Inc.] “Getting out on the water gives you a whole other perspective. You feel so free, but if a big wind comes up, you have to be ready. You learn to handle your sailboat and your crew. You learn to read the wind and the water. Sailing really is a metaphor for life. Parents tell me they think the time their children spend with us teaches them skills they’ll have forever.” Rhoda Ironside speaks about her sailing program with affection and pride. And so she should. The program started in 2001 with eight sailboats, a few enthusiastic kids and an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant. By the summer of 2007, two hundred students were signed up for the week-long programs, with a fleet of twenty-six boats. A few are called “Escapes,” little nine-foot sailboats that are perfect for the beginners. “This is a fabulous, simple program — nothing fancy. We store the equipment in two garden sheds. It’s real grassroots stuff, and it’s not a ‘throw away’ kind of camp. These sailors, from the little eight-year-old guy to the instructors in their late teens and twenties, they’re like my grandchildren, learning to sail a boat, to take care of a boat, to be responsible and have a strong work ethic. If I can give them that — responsibility and a good work ethic and a love of the water and sailing — well, I think they really will sail through life!”