A school trip on a ship:
For 6 years now I work at the AOC Terra in Assen, a ‘green’ school for lower and senior secondary professional education with enthusiastic pupils and a friendly atmosphere.
Each year we organize excursions to different destinations. The pupils can choose to go to
Ameland, the Ardennes, a Pony camp, Prague or a sailing camp.
Personally I love to go on a sailing camp, because of its diversity, whereby the teamwork of the pupils is the priority.
A great part of the day we’re sailing which involves a lot of activities and because of that the youngsters work outdoors all day.
Apart from that we’ll visit one of the (West) Frisian Isles or one or another harbor along the
coast where we can make acquaintance with the environment and if wanted, have some time for ourselves.
Our school has been on a sailing trip quite often. The past two years part of our group spent the week aboard with Sjak. She has an easy way to accomplish that everyone will be actively involved
in the whole process around the sailing.
There‘re always pupils (especially the young ladies) that are difficult to get motivated and prefer to do nothing. Sjak manages to get them working and to get them interested for the sailing.
The advantage of having a sailing camp on a big ship in contrast with a camp ashore, is that the stress of everyday life disappears. It’s nice to stay over in a relative small space while at the same time you have the feeling to have some space left.
Doing a lot of things together and therefore learning about one’s character quite fast.
Skipper Sjak: Quiet, gentle, doesn’t scream, she has ‘balls’ (anti-macho) and she’s a professional.
I teach at the Almere College in Dronten, a school community; vocational training to grammar school.
When we have school trips, we’ll go for three days to Belgium or Ameland and for five days to England, Rome, Paris or Berlin. It’s always a matter of give and take when we take decisions concerning the finances. We travel with 40 to 120 pupils, depending on the number of companions.
Personally I think a ship is too partial. A limited number of pupils can participate and not everyone likes to sail. There will be extra educational values, but that’s really not the most important issue.
Probably the effect of expenses and the educational time are for many schools most important, sadly enough.
It might sound a bit negative, but it’s the situation as it is.
How does an average sailing week look like?
To start with: the journey to the harbor of departure and the boarding.
Then the kitchen and cupboards will be put in order and provisions will be stored, followed by the arrangement of the cabins.
Next there is the skipper’s word of welcome and a domestic/safety talk.
Dependent on the moment of boarding, in the evening or morning, the sailor will give a short instruction on deck.
Time of departure: everyone aboard?
Offshore we’ll hoist the sails together and we set course.
Dependent on the weather forecast and the wishes of those present, a plan is thought of for the coming week, taking account of the further weather conditions.
The pupils have chores every day: jobs to be done in the kitchen, clean the sanitary, take away the garbage, shopping for food, etc.
At the end of the day there will be decided by agreement what time we will leave the next day and when to arrive at some place.
There’s also the possibility for the supervisors to take the class ashore to visit a town, a museum otherwise.
Visiting Texel one can combine a beautiful cycling tour with an educational visit to the seal sanctuary, called Ecomare.
Equally interesting is the outdoor museum in Enkhuizen, as well as the Bataviahaven in Lelystad.
The final day the main accent will be on the arrival in the harbor of departure.
Apart from getting all the personal belongings together again, the ship must be cleaned for the next group that will come on board.
The charm of sailing with a school class and a group youngsters according to skipper Sjak:
When I was 14 years of age I already joined a camp in the summer. Seven days of bungling with small sailing boats and hanging out with all the other kids. That was great.
Two years later I took part in a sailing camp, organized by school; very sociable with a great last night where everyone had some kind of show. The senior general secondary education and pre-university education were mixed, so that you got to know other students as well.
I stayed down a class in order to join another camp: the water camp in Lauwersoog.
I had my first experience on a keel (flat-bottomed ship) sailing to Shiermonnikoog (one of the Frisian Isles), cycled around and sailed back again (1984).
As a sailor (1999) I stood on the other side: To organize a group of youngsters with a joke and gag, giving a lot of compliments for accomplished tasks: a splendid challenge and it was great fun.
As a skipper (since 2002) I became the bad guy and the sailor the good guy and I started aiming for working together with the supervisors of the group. During the day the crew (skipper and sailor) will keep the youngsters very busy so that they will sleep like babies and in the evening the responsibility will be given back to the supervisors. The reason for this method: the crew as well as the supervisors can spread their energy over the week and nobody loses his patience.
The idea for me being a skipper is, thinking of my own experience as a youngster: to create an unforgettable week, with a lot of adventures about which the youth, when they are old and wise, can tell stories about to their grandchildren.
As a former probation officer, which also means an educational background, I don’t accept strange or spoiling behavior, ugliness otherwise.
The intention is to have incomparable week and nobody has the right to spoil that for the others.
With the space given to me by the supervisors of the group over the past years, the sailor and I succeeded every time in creating a good working group of youngsters.
The first day one gets the opportunity to get used to the ship and the environment, the second day one is told by the crew speaks out that the expectation that those present will sail the ship themselves.
We assume that’s the motivation in the first place when one comes aboard.
Of course we have discussed this with the supervisors beforehand.
At the end of the week the groups/classes often will do an act, sing a song, recite a poem or give a present to express their thanks and say goodbye, before they ‘roll’ into the bus, tired but satisfied.