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The end of the cadet program on Providence

Posted by astamatt on August 14, 2007

   Feet on the headrig

 Last Friday marked the last day of the cadet program for Providence this summer. Friday proved to be a kind of bum end to the program – the sail with the parents had to be canceled due to adverse weather. Very unfortunate, especially since I know the kids would have been able to impress their parents with their newfound sailing ability. They also did not get to have a graduation ceremony with certificates. Even though the kids thought the graduation ceremony was a bit cheesy the first week ,they couldn’t hide a smile when they got their name called.

 Heather and I did were able  to spend the overnight on Thursday with a handful of cadets and the crew. After a short lull following the departure of most of the cadets, we got underway. Motorsailing past the bridge the ship found an anchorage near the on-ramp to the Pell Bridge from the Jamestown area. The kids then helped anchor the ship by bringing up  and laying out chain and line from the chain locker.  After anchoring we were treated to a wonderful dinner of baked pasta ziti and salad. Three cadets got the lucky duty of dishwashing. As the sun started its descent to the horizon, some crewmembers read books or went swimming. One  cadet went swimming while the rest participated in practicing the use of heaving lines making sure not to hit our swimmers!

The cadets got to accompany crew members on anchor watches throughout the night. It was a surprisingly cold night compared to previous humid summer nights   However, I heard no complaints of the weather come morning. Nor did I hear of any interesting events that happened throughout the night – which was a good thing. It was a nice, quiet watch throughout the night, the best kind. The overnight was a great success, it was good that the cadets got to experience the other side to ship life – the meals, downtime and the watch.

Next morning, the cadets were greeted with cereal and  milk for breakfast. Then they got to experience the windlass! After 20 minutes of heaving the anchor up, and some more time to cat the anchor and put away the chain, we were ready to go. It then began to rain lightly. By the time we finished docking, the rain had increased. Shortly after the other cadets were onboard it began to pour. It did not end and  caused the cancellation of Friday’s events.

I think the program overall was a great success. It was great to get to know these kids and they seemed to enjoy getting to know us as well. Seeing them transform from a demure Monday mood into talkative, enthusiastic and confident people by Friday was really profound. Their teachers and police officers told us later that they had never seen the kids so happy, talkative and confident. Apparently, a week on the Providence brought something out of them that they didn’t know about and  did not expect. Before leaving they all insisted on hugging us and shaking our hands. One cadet even climbed back on board ship and came over just to shake my hand, evidently surprising his teacher by the act. Apparently he hasn’t done that much in the past and I was happy to know that the time I spent getting to know him and teach him things meant something positive to him.

I think I learned as much in those two weeks as the kids. Sure, I learned some things about sailing, but I learned a lot about working with youth. I learned that you really can make a differenceby  spending some time with the kids and  giving them some attention. And most importantly and most surprisingly ,by giving them some responsibilities – something I remember getting  too little of at that age.

It is thanks to an ASTA grant,  the Sloop Providence Foundation, the involved teachers and police officers of the community and the awesome crew of the sloop Providence, that these kids got to have an opportunity that they enjoyed and that, by and large, meant something to them. I would have considered myself wonderfully lucky to sail on such a ship at that age. They have had a really profound experience of sailing a tall ship – whether they realize it or not.

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2 Responses to “The end of the cadet program on Providence”

  1. […] Intern Matt wrote a great post on the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE blog about the Sloop Providence’s participation in ASTA’s Tall Ships Youth Adventure […]

  2. sandrar said

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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