Foster kids are frequently thrust into new situations, new surroundings, and new experiences. We often see first-hand the lack of trust or interest by foster children due to the inherent risk of the good experience not lasting. Our recent event was a perfect example of how they can work in our favor.
Fit4truth recently participated in an event that was an experience for the kids, chaperones and volunteers alike. We embarked on a trip out on the water to learn how to sail! Now let me be clear, we’re not talking about a little dinghy out on a calm lake kind-of sailing. I’m talking about multi-sail, out on the open water, listing to one side kind-of sailing.
Fit4Truth was fortunate to pair with Captain Harper from the Atlantis V Foundation to take the kids out on the water for a day of learning how to sail and some good old-fashioned relaxation. The kids were first given a safety brief prior to embarkation which was a great way to teach the kids that with every new endeavor, you should take a step back, analyze, identify hazards and then take appropriate precautions to mitigate their impact on you.
Some of the children voiced apprehension about being on the water as they either couldn’t swim or were not very comfortable in the water. This proved to be a great teaching moment as we were able to relay that Beau and myself were extremely proficient swimmers and we had life jackets for every person on board. This showed the kids that you don’t always have to shy away from a new, potentially intimidating task just because you’re not a pro at it. Surround yourself with good people who can support you and bolster your deficiencies by preparing ahead of time and you can turn a scary new endeavor into a memorable, confidence building experience.
Captain Harper and his First Mate allowed some of the children to take the controls of the boat once we were under sail. Heck, I’ve never even driven a sailboat! This was a terrific experience for them as they learned the importance to stay focused and diligent in your duties when you have so many other people trusting you to perform. It gave the kids a sense of accomplishment when they were done.
As we were sailing, a pod of dolphins appeared and swam next to the boat for a couple minutes. This proved to be the highlight of the trip for some of the kids. We seized the burst of energy and newfound interest to let the kids tell us about what interests them and turn that into life lessons.
Following a lengthy, detailed conversation on marine life, mainly large sharks with one of the kids, I explained that he could turn that love into a career as a Marine Biologist or professional Boat Captain. He was utterly flabbergasted and delighted that he could make a living doing this. We talked about that all he had to do was set goals and apply his self.
For me, the most enlightening and powerful part of the trip was seeing one of the kids, an older teenager sitting by himself at the front of the boat, listening to music. Initially, I was focused on how I could get him involved and to open up. But it quickly dawned on me that maybe this was exactly what this teen needed. If he could decompress, clear his mind, and potentially find some personal meaning or small takeaway from this trip because, allowed to escape from the hubbub and chaos of foster care, even for just 30 minutes, then our trip was a complete success.
In the process of helping others and aiding them in finding themselves, you just may learn a thing or two about life and yourself.