Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Past Participant Jenny Smith Returns as Program Coordinator to "Pass the Spark and Plant the Seed"

Jenny poses aboard Adventuress during a Girl Scout trip in 2004.
Jenny Smith, current Program Coordinator (PC) extraordinaire, first came aboard in 2004 to participate in a 4-day Girl Scout trip. She was twelve-years-old, and although she can’t remember many concrete details, the sense of Adventuress’ community stayed with her: “I know I had an amazing time. I came home and made a photo album of the trip… Afterwards, whenever tall ships came up in conversation, I was super enthusiastic about Adventuress.”

In the twelve intervening years between participant and PC, Jenny attended Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. Although she originally planned to study Marine Biology, she decided that it wasn’t the right fit. Still, marine science was close to her heart. Recalls Jenny, “My grandpa is a retired marine fisheries scientist, so he inundated my dad with information about marine science. My dad did the same for me.” Jenny ended up majoring in Environmental Education with a minor in Environmental Science. Describing the skills that led her to this path, she says, “Everyone always told me that I would make a great teacher. I can speak the language of Marine Science in a way that allows me to serve as an interpreter for others.”

Before and after: Jenny climbs the rigging as a participant
in 2004 and as Program Coordinator in 2016.
When she saw the job listing for Program Coordinator aboard Adventuress, she was ecstatic: “I thought, ‘This is perfect. This is exactly what I want to do.’ I had all of the qualifications. I applied immediately… [the PC role] aligned with my goals and values in a way that my previous job didn’t.” Describing what she does aboard Adventuress, Jenny presents herself as a teacher of teachers: “I teach and guide the crew about how best to teach and guide participants.”

This spring, Jenny came aboard for a trip with the Sussex School to shadow the Season 1 PC and learn more about her future role. On the final evening of every overnight program on Adventuress, crew and participants have a chance to share anything they want—be it stories, songs, skits, or skills—as part of a tradition called Party Piece. It was Jenny's first time participating in Party Piece as an adult, and it made an impression. Says Jenny, “Being able to sit back and watch Party Piece gave me an overwhelming feeling of returning to a community where I belonged. It was a total joy.” 

Asked about her favorite moments aboard, she first landed on the 4-day Boy Scout trip last month. During the daily navigation lesson, crew members Arthur and Tom had the brilliant idea of gauging Adventuress' speed by dropping an object in the water (fear not, marine debris watchdogs: it was a piece of toast) and measuring how long it took to travel the length of the deck. Recalls Jenny, “All of a sudden these boys were yelling math equations at each other. I was amazed—they were excited to be doing math in summer.”

Wayne Chimenti returned as Captain for Fantastic Voyage
Level 2 and Jenny had the chance to sail with him again.
Jenny also loved the Road Scholar Intergenerational trips, which unite grandparents and grandchildren for six days on Adventuress: “[Road Scholar trips] are a really cool opportunity for grandkids to relate differently to their grandparents. We could see the growth in their bond from day to day. All of the crew agreed that we wished we could have shared a similar experience with our grandparents.”

For the first Road Scholar trip in July, she came up with a new activity: she presented participants with a blank chart of the San Juans and they worked together to fill in the chart with place names and pertinent information as they traveled through the islands. On that particular trip, participants hailed from all over the country: California, Colorado, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia. Says Jenny, “We only had one local family on that trip, but everyone was so delighted to fill in the chart and learn about this area.”

With summer programs wrapping up and less than two months left in the sailing season, Jenny is excited to turn to a schedule full of Festival Sails, Public Sails, Member Transits, and day-long and overnight trips with schools. Summing up why Adventuress matters, she says: “As important as it is that we teach about conservation and show people how to change their habits, the bigger picture is that we’re sharing a passion for the marine environment with everyone who comes aboard. We’re passing on the spark. We’re planting the seed. People might not realize how much lives in the water until they’ve spent time on Adventuress.”