As the Shawnigan group set off from Victoria on Oct. 16, armed with sleeping bags, warm hats and gloves, the weather forecast was not promising sunshine for their week of sailing on the 34-metre long tall ship, Pacific Swift
. Despite the predominantly chilly, wet conditions, many of the students reported that the five-day sailing adventure with SALTS (the Sailing and Life Training Society) was one of the most profound experiences of their lives.
The students were split into three groups and, with the Pacific Swift crew on-hand to offer guidance and training, were charged with the running of the ship, from raising sails and steering to serving meals and washing up.
On their return, Jenny Z. and Owen Z. from the Prep School gave humorous speeches in Chapel
on what had been their first SALTS experience. Both students expressed some of their misgivings before the trip and their gratitude and enjoyment on reflecting about the experience afterwards.
Jenny told the story of her brave climb to the top of the mast and drew a parallel between that climb and achieving goals: “I like to challenge myself in life and in study. Climbing is like life; you never give up, think hard and observe how much you need to do to accomplish your aim and not be afraid of the risk.”
Owen, who celebrated his birthday during the course of the expedition, noted that the SALTS experience gives everyone the opportunity to show leadership. Because of the challenges of tiredness and cold, he explained, the night watch was the most difficult duty; however, everyone stepped up to the plate and completed their turn because they understood how significant the responsibility was. He shared that the Prep School group in particular have become closer and more united as a group as a result of their shared SALTS experience.
English teacher and Outdoor Pursuits leader Jenny Ferris was full of praise for the perseverance and commitment shown by several other members of the Shawnigan crew: “Freddy W. kept everyone’s spirits up with energetic games and quiet conversations of encouragement when anyone was overwhelmed by the cold or seasickness. Jerry C. was one of the most cheerful and optimistic crew members onboard--doggedly pursuing the crew to test him on his knowledge of VHF radio protocol, tying knots and their principal uses—as well as being the most fervent at studying for his Junior Sailing Certificate, which he achieved on the last day. James H. proved also himself a keen learner when it came to demonstrating his prowess on the sailing tests and climbing to the crow’s nest on the mast, even in strong wind.”
By pushing all participants out of their comfort zone and presenting a wide range of daily problem-solving scenarios, the annual SALTS trip is one of Shawnigan’s most challenging and memorable new experiential learning trips.