SPIRIT OF AMERICA FOUNDATION
PREMIER YOUTH BOATING EDUCATION
A new program for teenagers offers an exclusive opportunity to build life skills as they learn to operate and maintain power, paddle and sail craft.
Youths 14 and older will earn their Florida boater’s licenses in a rare mix of classroom and on-the-water learning, but that’s not the main objective. Over two weeks in October, participants will also develop self-confidence, social skills and self-control, and demonstrate responsible behavior, while having a great time.
The Spirit Of America Foundation’s Premier Youth Education Program is partnering with the park’s nonprofit operator, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), to offer this special boatsmanship program.
“It’s a great comprehensive boater safety education program,” NBP Program Manager Meghan Farrell said. “You’re learning these things the right way.”
Nationally certified instructors will lead participants in 5 hours on the water in each of the three disciplines of power boating, paddling and sailing, including time with personal watercraft. The teens will develop “a wealth of knowledge on all boater safety,” Farrell said. They’ll get all the classroom learning for their boater’s license, but the on-the-water, hands-on experience in a safe environment is rare in boater licensing education, she added.
The Spirit of America curriculum incorporates all of the national requirements on water education and knowledge based standards of education, along with the national education standards for school credit coursework.
“If you’re passionate about the water and boating, it’s a great camp,” Farrell said.
The program also contains a drowning prevention course and a visit from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officer, who will speak about boating safety and about opportunities in law enforcement with FWC.
“This program collaboration is another example of our commitment to providing educational opportunities through the unique attributes at Nathan Benderson Park,” SANCA Chief Operating Officer Stephen V. Rodriguez said. “From water adventure camp to Learn To Row and everything in between, SANCA is committed to getting residents of all ages on the water, and to develop a knowledgeable and water-safe community.”
Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate and a gift, as well as their boater’s license.
The course is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 19-23 and 26-30, and there’s a $100 fee.