Thursday, November 17, 2016

Marianne Wells, Two Daughters, Five Trips

Marianne and Matt Wells’ daughters Emma and Eliza have sailed aboard Adventuress a grand total of five times. Emma, now seventeen, first came aboard in 2012 for Girls at the Helm (GATH); in the intervening years, she returned for GATH, sailed on the 6-day Fantastic Voyage, and served as an Apprentice on one of our Road Scholar IntergenerationalVoyages. Most recently, thirteen-year-old Eliza followed in her sister’s footsteps and joined us for our 2016 GATH trip.

Emma on the 2012 Girls at the Helm.
Both parents worked aboard fishing boats in Alaska in their twenties. Recalling that time in their lives, Marianne says, “We wanted our girls to have the same experience of living and working on the water and being part of a shipboard community.” Additionally, Matt grew up sailing in Cape Cod, and he hoped that his daughters could share in that important part of his childhood. Explains Marianne, “Even though we can’t live back there [in Cape Cod] and we don’t sail here, we want our girls to recognize how amazing it is to live so close to Puget Sound.”

If a love of the water runs in the Wells family, so does a dedication to educating and empowering women. Marianne mentions a sister, Lisa, who lives in New York and runs a nonprofit that offers long-distance support to current and future women leaders in Central Asian countries like Mongolia and Afghanistan. Says Marianne, “My girls have grown up with that ethic. We really value educating and empowering women.”

As siblings with a four-year age difference, Emma and Eliza reached Adventuress in different ways and had different experiences aboard. The father of one of Emma’s school friends once worked on Adventuress, and this connection was how Marianne and Matt first heard about the program. Describing her older daughter, Marianne says, “Emma has always had an adventurous spirit, but the trip really sealed it for her. [Girls at the Helm] took what was already part of her character and really solidified it. She loved it so much.”

Eliza on this year's GATH trip.
Eliza grew up hearing about Emma’s experiences on Adventuress, but Marianne and Matt didn’t initially think that she was interested in following her sister aboard. She didn’t have much experience with overnight camps, so it was a surprise to her parents when she announced at the end of her 7th grade year that she and a school friend had been talking about the program and wanted to attend. Eliza and her friend Bailey sailed together that summer on the August GATH. Says Marianne,“She really took the initiative in choosing the trip for herself.”

Why Girls at the Helm? Marianne reports back Eliza’s words: “Being on Adventuress sounded way more cool than a normal camp.” Part of this had to do with size: Girls at the Helm unites twenty young women, three to four mentors, and roughly thirteen crew. For an introvert like Eliza, the smallness of the community—and the fact that it’s all women—made the jump to an overnight camp much easier to handle. Both Emma and Eliza go to co-ed schools, and, says Marianne, “They never have the chance to do things with just a group of women… I know that for Eliza’s first year aboard, the female crew made her feel more comfortable. It was a great first step.”

Eliza wears a harness after climbing aloft.
Why Adventuress? Marianne speaks movingly about the programs that she loves: It’s a very unique opportunity for young people to get away from an urban environment and really live with a group of people working on the water. Partly it has to do with the historic nature of the ship and partly it has to do with a deep love for Puget Sound. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?” Asked what she hopes Emma and Eliza gain from the experience, she says, “I hope that my daughters develop deep roots to our beautiful Puget Sound and consider the possibility of their work and livelihood being connected to the ocean and the marine environment.”

A good sign that this has happened: Eliza is planning to return.


The 2017 schedule for summer overnight tripsincluding trips for teens, girls, women, adults, families, and Sound Experience Membershas been posted on our website. Click here to find out more!

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