Young Mariners Academy Spotlight- Meet Will Burdick!

Meet Senior Instructor at Young Mariners Academy, Will! Get to know Will below!

How many years have you been with Young Mariners?

This summer will be my 7th year working at Young Mariners. I am a full time sailing instructor and educator during the first session of Young Mariners. I have done fall and spring sailing classes as a sailing instructor as well.

What is your favorite part about being an Instructor?

I just LOVE watching the skills and confidence development of my kids on the water. They start out camp with very little skill, wrestling their boats and trying to figure out how to make a boat go where they want it to go, and not really sure how to work with a partner. Naturally their unsure about themselves, but we stress perseverance at Young Mariners. After a few weeks of training and practice, you see the kids become more fluid in their movement, more knowledgeable about how the physics of sailing actually works, and able to trust and communicate with their partners on the boat.  It’s great to watch those looks of bewilderment (and sometimes fear) turn into smiles of delight as their boat flies along in the wind.

What is your favorite Young Mariners activity?

It’s really hard to say which activity is my favorite, since a camp session at Young Mariners contains a diverse array of activities that focus on different types of experience and learning.  So I’ll highlight two things that I love.

The first is the morning circle that we hold each day at the beginning of camp. Everyone at camp gathers in large circle, facing each other, with our hyper-animated and engaging co-director Jeff Bianco leading from the middle of the circle.  During circle, counselors, interns, and campers give each other “shout-outs” to recognize examples of how members of the camp showed motivation, virtue, and perseverance the day before.  We talk about any safety or organizational concerns for the upcoming day too. It’s a great point for re-centering everyone in camp, and creates a fantastic sense of community.

The Second thing I love is the “Destination Sail” that we do in the last week or two of camp.  By that point, the campers in my group have had extensive lessons in the land-based classroom using local charts and navigation tools.  They are also much more capable and confident sailors.  So I have the kids spend the days leading up to the sail plotting the course, measuring the distance we’ll travel,  and looking at the wind, weather, and tide forecast for the day of the sail.  They take this data and actually “do the math” to figure out the optimum route, how long it will take to reach the destination, and when they will need to turn around to make it back for the end of the day.  Then, we hop in our boats and head out! We sail all morning, and then have lunch and free time exploring our destination, then sail back to camp. It is just a fantastic culminating experience that integrates all the parts of camp into one big activity.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have always loved the outdoors, so if I have spare time I try to spend it outside sailing, hiking, canoeing, or star-gazing.  I’ve always loved natural history, so I love to go hunting for mushrooms, fossils, animal tracks, and especially beach-combing.  I have a two year old daughter, so nowadays I don’t have much spare time that she isn’t a part of. Whenever we can, we spend time on the beach at Cove Park turning over rocks and looking for interesting stuff along the shore, or walking through the forest at Mianus Park. It’s so great to watch her discover things, and to re-discover my own sense of wonder through her experience.

What are your certifications?

I am a CT state certified teacher ( I teach fourth grade at Rogers International), I am CPR/First-Aid/AED certified, and I have a Level 1 Sailing Instructor Certification from US Sailing.

Name one fun fact about yourself.

I love to read, and I have a huge collection of books. My favorite section in my collection is the “Adventure/Misadventure/Do-It-Yourself” shelf.  It seems like every great venture or quest for knowledge and discovery is a combination of the three.  I love reading stories of people who have struck out and had to solve problems in the face of great adversity, whether they reach their goals or not, it’s always an interesting read!

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