Los Angeles Maritime
Berth 84, Foot of Sixth Street, San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 548-7618 FAX: (310) 832-6537
TOPSAIL YOUTH PROGRAM
TOPSAIL YOUTH PROGRAM:
The transition from adolescence into adulthood is a difficult
and confusing time for all. Poverty, addiction, and dysfunctional
homes form "at risk" life cycles. These cycles can be
broken, but for an urban impacted youth who has innocently been
caught in this cycle, he or she must have a great deal of help.
They, more than other children, probably lack strong and
consistent connections with adults and a community who can teach
and role model the very skills they need for this transitional
time in their lives. During this time, youths must choose for
themselves how they will conduct their lives and what directions
they will take. The Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI), has
pledged to fully develop and expand on a very unique experiential
education program field tested and developed by LAMI Founder and
President, Jim Gladson. His sailing program proved to be
"more than just a boat ride". Even students who had
previously been anti-social, disruptive, or carrying defeatist
attitudes made dramatic and lasting gains in cooperation,
persistence, self-esteem and leadership. The miniature society
created by a vessel and her crew as they voyage from port, and
home again, need by necessity to be self-sufficient. Each member
of the crew must act independently yet interdependently, they are
the fire department, plumbers, engineers and cooks. If something
breaks it's a case of fix it, replace it or do without. In this
environment of immediacy and adventure which challenges each
person in a physical, mental and even emotional way, the
relationships between rights, power and responsibility come to
life. LAMI does not seek to train youth for lives at sea, rather
we will use the sea to educate youth for life.
THE VESSEL: Our 70' topsail schooner, SWIFT of IPSWICH, sails with a crew of professional mariner/educators. The staff being charged with encouraging and fostering individual growth, responsibility, cooperation, teamwork, persistence, self-reliance, self-esteem and leadership. Participants are selected to participate in LAMI programs by people who work with kids and who can recognize those who could benefit from this kind of experiential adventure. Other participants will hear about our programs and call to find out how they can come aboard, we welcome everyone. It is our goal to turn no one away for lack of funds.
TOPSAIL YOUTH PROGRAM: This introductory program, a two week session, is typically a participant's first involvement with the Institute. The first week (Monday through Friday) consists of day-sails in and around the Los Angeles, Long Beach harbor area, during which participants literally "learn the ropes", become familiar with their crewmates, the vessel, and its motion. Participants are assigned to a port or starboard watch, with each watch (a group of 10-12) directed by a ship's mate and a student mate. Each watch alternates in the operation of the vessel, with the students within each watch rotating responsibilities. The goal of each mate is to work him or herself out of the picture. The most successful mates are those whose watches become the least dependent on them for efficient, competent, and safe operation of the vessel.
Each day's activities build on the skills and knowledge gained during the preceding days. Daily differences in weather, shipping, wildlife and participant skill level make each day a unique and challenging adventure. Usually on Thursday we will anchor SWIFT in a secluded part of the harbor, and launch the small boats for instruction in small boat handling, rowing, sailing, etc. The students prepare dinner, and after everything is cleaned up we sail back to the Museum berth. The students tend to see night sailing as a "rite of passage", and genuine test of skill to sail in the dark.
Before setting sail on Friday morning the group plans the next week's voyage. They decide the logistics, including purpose, anticipated weather, destinations, menu, shopping list, and necessary personal gear to bring. That afternoon's sail generally carries with it a strong feeling of accomplishment, coupled with a sense of impending adventure. It is common to overhear new found friends making plans for getting together over the week end in preparation for their next exciting five days!
The second week starts early Monday morning with the preparation and provisioning of the vessel and boarding of the crew, and ends late Friday afternoon with the vessel unloaded and cleaned up, ready for the next group. The specific activities that take place between departure and return are conceived, planned, and executed bv the students. Advice and assistance from the staff is given only if requested or as needed for safety reasons. Thus each voyage is unique and very much the product of that group of students.
After completing the TOPSAIL PROGRAM each participant is encouraged to continue as an active member of the "SWIFT Family" and to come aboard again as student/mates, or participate in shore-based classes and projects, and to apply for SWIFT EXPEDITIONS.
SWIFT EXPEDITIONS: These more advanced and challenging voyages will have specific purposes, goals and durations. For example, at this writing a series of research expeditions are being planned in cooperation with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and "Voyages of the SWIFT"; a television production company headed by Bill Hersey, which expects to produce several one hour television specials. The student/participants will be equipped with Hi-8 video cameras and taught the fundamentals of videography. Footage shot by the students will be used as supplemental footage in the television specials. The research conducted on these voyages by our participants are part of regular, ongoing, Scripps research programs.
COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS: The SWIFT can be made available for -other youth organizations, clubs, religious groups, social agencies (the potential list is endless) to participate in the fun and challenge that a voyage on SWIFT can offer. We will work with each group to design a program meeting our mutual needs and goals.
OTHER PROGRAMS: Fund raising will always be an on going process, and so we will offer dinner cruises, special events, adult trips of personal exploration, maritime history, fun, oceanography.... Call us, we will be happy to make a special voyage possible. We also want SWIFT to become your Tall Ship, as well as ours. Come, be a part of the fun and learning possible while aboard the SWIFT, whether she is sailing or dockside. A program like ours needs many hands to make the work light and give everyone a chance to feel the breeze in her sails. So if you have a yearning to go to sea we can always find room for yet another volunteer. Call and ask for Heather Johnson or Jim Gladson.