Today we said goodbye to the third group of Pearl B. Larson 5th graders we have had on board. Before they departed, I asked each student what was the hardest thing they’ve done during their week on Roseway and also what was their favorite. Interestingly, several of them stated ‘climbing’ or ‘riding the bow’ or ‘sailing’ as both the hardest thing and their most favorite. How intriguing it is, that some of the hardest things in life, once we overcome them, become our fondest memories.
And these 5th graders certainly faced a week of challenges. Tuesday and Wednesday proved themselves to be unseasonably windy with gusts reaching 30 knots and waves growing to 12 feet high. Though this prevented us from leaving the dock for programs, we still kept the students well occupied with playing tug-of-war to demonstrate mechanical advantage and building their own boats out of tinfoil to show the role surface area plays with buoyancy. With the extra time that staying dockside allows, we were even able to play more challenging games. My personal favorite involved reenacting Roseway’s history as a piloting vessel by having blindfolded ‘cargo ship’ students being led by their ‘pilots’ safely into harbor. Once we were able to raise sail on Thursday and Friday, the winds continued to stay strong and students faced their fears of high seas and reaching great heights.
Overcoming your fears becomes all the more meaningful and possible when you have a team there to support you. Whether it be cheering you on to climb one ratboard higher or holding your hand as you look over the rail together at a dolphin, having that peer with you makes it all the more meaningful. In these moments I can see the values that we focus on (communication, teamwork, trust, and self-worth) truly culminate in a beautiful way.
Though the week proved itself to be unusual, I was quite pleased with not only how the 5th graders handled the experience, but also with our crew. During these past seven weeks it has been amazing seeing our deckhands play, teach, and bond with roughly 200 local students. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such smart, talented, and compassionate educators this St. Croix season. Cheers to one more week sailing in the Virgin Islands, as we welcome students from the Gifft Hill School from St. John! Fair winds and following seas!