Charting a New Course: Engaging Youth Sailors with STEM amid the Pandemic

Reach, US Sailing’s STEM Education Initiative, distributed ten grants during the summer of 2020. We recently caught up with one of the recipients, Green Bay Sailing & Paddle, Inc., and their Board President Becky Paul shared the creative ways they incorporated STEM into their programming during a year that was anything but typical.

By Becky Paul, Green Bay Sail & Paddle Board President 

Wow, what a year 2020 has been! 

COVID-19 has impacted everyone and brought many unplanned challenges to all of us.  Green Bay Sail & Paddle, Inc. (“GBSP”) was not immune from this impact.  For us, the US Sailing Reach Initiative Grant came at the perfect time.  As a relatively young and small non-profit organization, every penny counts.  We spent many hours trying to solve the problem of how we could still offer our STEM Camps.  We knew that children needed something fun and safe to do, and needed that even more so in the midst of a pandemic.  

Being a recipient of this grant allowed us to purchase the supplies needed to successfully run our week-long STEM Camps.  By combining Reach modules with curriculum from our learn to sail programming, we successfully developed our STEM Camps.  Students participating in our all-day, weeklong STEM Camps were continuously learning even when they weren’t aware of it.  

This grant also afforded us the ability to cover the cost for our staff to complete the US Sailing STEM Educator Course.  This course provided our staff with more tools to successfully teach STEM programming and the ability to utilize each Reach module to its fullest potential.   

The most rewarding part for our organization as a grant recipient was our ability to offer scholarships to children who otherwise would not have been able to afford to attend.

It was amazing to see what each student was able to take away from being a participant in our STEM Camps. Some of our participants even joined several of our other classes and participated in our rental program proudly showing off their new passion for sailing to their parents.  Across the board, all of the parents could not have been happier with the program. Here is just one of the testimonials that we received: 

“Our son had the best time at STEM sailing camp. It was his first camp experience of any kind and Green Bay Sail {and Paddle} set the bar high!  We weren’t sure what to expect, as no one in our family has any sailing knowledge, but everyone was so welcoming and did a fantastic job making it interesting and not at all intimidating.  Our son couldn’t stop talking about what he learned and really impressed everyone with how much he learned in a short amount of time.  He is itching to get back and learn more which shows how much fun he had.  Because of his experience, our whole family has become interested in sailing so thank you Green Bay Sail {and Paddle} for opening up this new world to us!” 

US Sailing’s support of our organization made all this possible.  The Reach Program and Reach Initiative Grant were vital parts to ensuring our STEM Camps were successful.  

We are excited to see our STEM Camps continue to growexpanding the Reach program into our Scouting events and other private group events, and partnering with area school districts to incorporate STEM programming into their regularly scheduled summer school programming.  

Learn More About Green Bay Sailing & Paddle