Racing with Copepods: A case for creative mentoring
January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Barbara McVeigh was, for a time, the Communications/Outreach Director at one of the most innovative community sailing centers I’m aware of, a place call Sailing Education Adventures, in Marin, California.
We’ve been emailing back and forth for years about how SEA links sailing and experiential learning. I’ve been impressed by the organization’s fearless nature- and science-based curriculum, a distant outlier among community and sailing programs that typically focus on skills or racing.
And I was concerned to learn in early 2014 that Barbara was moving onto a new career: independent documentary filmmaking, and that her contributions at SEA were coming to an end.
Instead, Barb upped the ante. She’s challenging everyone who teaches and advocates for sailing to think much bigger.
Her short film “Racing with Copepods,” directed by Carlos Grana, and featuring Kimball Livingston as narrator, begins like any intro to a sailing program with dock talk and PFDs. But soon, the shackles binding conventional thinking come off, and we’re watching kids blast across San Francisco Bay aboard planing dinghies on a destination adventure to collect beach samples and dig in mud. Then they’re casting nets off the transom of an ocean-going research sailboat to collect and study microscopic organisms with scientists as crew-mates. Eventually, the kids explain the links between the Copepods – tiny speedy jumping swimmers – and themselves. They share the water. And the water, therefore, deserves our care.
It’s not a new story that sailing is a great platform for teaching and learning things like leadership, character and inquisitiveness. What’s new is that the connections made to and from sailing by creative mentors like Barbara are limitless. Almost anything you want to learn, you can learn through sailing. And almost anything you want to teach, you can teach through sailing. The key is to make the environment for mentoring. Then, sailing doesn’t need saving. It does the saving.