By Elizabeth Becker
What would you call a group of fourteen young women (ages 13 to 17), five mentors (ages 37 to 70), and a highly energetic and enthusiastic crew aboard a historic schooner in the San Juan Islands? The answer: PHENOMENAL!
Our newest program, focused on girls and leadership, took place the first week of August, under sunny skies, perfect breezes, and starry nights at anchor watch.
While those things were wonderful, they couldn’t hold a candle to the delight of heading south through Cattle Pass (at the southern tip of San Juan Island) to come upon a SUPER POD of Orcas. Breaching, spy hopping, and tail slapping elicited the appropriate “oohs” and “aahs” as the whales amazed us with their beauty and agility.
That morning set the stage for a fun-filled trip. Mentors Jean, Eileen, Kristin, Nancy, and me (Elizabeth) shared our enthusiasm for groundwater, coastal seabirds, effective communication, tall ships, and citizen science. Our crew led the girls in collecting and examining plankton, learning “the ropes” (halyards, actually!), talking about sustainable nutrition, and creating some highly memorable skits.
We all headed home tired and happy, a bit more knowledgeable about the environment, about ourselves, and about our community. In the words of a participant: “I learned a lot and had fun doing it, which is rare sometimes!”