On July 31, a group of island middle school students will board the schooner HARVEY GAMAGE at Islesboro for a nine-day sailing voyage under the auspices of The Maine Island Youth Program offered by the Ocean Classroom Foundation, Inc. In 10 years, over 200 students from Maine island communities have participated in this sailing adventure.

Students became part of the ship’s crew, learning to raise and lower sails, tie knots, tack and gybe, and to look out for the ship and their shipboard community. Ocean Classroom balances sailing skills with shore side adventures that enhance the voyage and sense of adventure for each sailor.

Islesboro school principal Jon Kerr has been an active participant as the program coordinator and on-board teacher. In recent years, he has coordinated the sail with Ocean Classroom, but has invited other island teachers and Island Institute staff and Fellows to experience the voyage.

Twenty-one percent of the Ocean Classroom term’s total enrollment hails from Maine. The program is rounded out with students from throughout the United States. Farley Mesko, a recent Ocean Classroom alumnus, is also a graduate of the Maine Island Youth Program. “I sailed to different places and made new friends,” Mesko said. “Every day I was challenged to learn in an engaging way. I used this new knowledge to solve problems, both physically and mentally.”

Mesko became a valuable member of the crew and the class of Spring 2003 and was one of two recipients of the “Ocean Classroom Award” sponsored by Williams-Mystic, Williams College Maritime Studies Program at Mystic Seaport Museum.

For more information about Ocean Classroom, visit its website, www.oceanclassroom.org or call (800) 724-7245.