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AAP issues a statement about the value of play time

– and boating is the perfect solution!

Beyond cool, this young boater is in control.

We’ve been known in the past to rant about the reasons why kids perhaps aren’t sticking with sailing.  Now we have backing from authorities.  Not just any authorities but doctor figures, and some of the top ones at that. Listen up.  Here it comes.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the official medical society of pediatricians, has issued a position paper about the value of play to childhood development.  Basically, their conclusion after studying all kinds of childhood disorders like ADHD is that kids just aren’t getting to be kids anymore.  We believe that boating can be the answer

“What?” you say.  Pediatricians -- medical doctors -- getting involved with social systems? Yes, indeedy. These guys are very serious about their medical responsibilities, yet a very distinguished panel of doctors and other specialists including child development experts got together to assess what they were seeing happening with children today.  Their conclusion:  not enough unstructured play time for children.

Okay why does that have anything to do with boating?  Because boats are just the kinds of things that keep children occupied outdoors without adult supervision, without organized games, without scheduled weekly events, and without computers and video games.  Boating is the type of experience that AAP says kids are lacking.  The opportunity to learn social hierarchy, negotiation skills, teamwork, leadership and gamesmanship.  The opportunity to be kids without intervention, without having to perform for adults who must have high achieving children.  It’s the opportunity to be human beings not human doings, as Deepak Chopra puts it. But only if they get to play on their own, without race officials, schedules, and parents telling how to do what and when. 

Duh!  It’s what we’ve been saying all along.  Here are all these kids who get excited about sailing only to be forced to race every waking moment, travel to remote destinations shlepping all their stuff, and “working” every moment of every day to be the best.  When do they get to just mess around in boats?  Rarely. 

Just messing around in boats creates smiles all around. What happened to all those days of frolicking without a schedule or objectives?

What happened to mom just saying, “Go out and play.”  What happened to dad showing you how to run the dinghy so you could do it yourself?  What happened to going out fishing and exploring to find treasures on the beach?  What happened to earning independence by showing you could be trusted?  Isn’t that what boating used to be about?

It’s the kind of situation in which there is no referee to figure it out for you. If you get in a tiff with your ‘crew’, you have to work your way through it.  If you want to do something that others don’t, you have to convince them your way is best. If you have trouble with something onboard, you have to work as a team to figure it out.  It teaches you interpersonal skills, and it teaches you how to learn.  Most of all it teaches you self-reliance, and that one person cannot possibly know everything.  It teaches you that there are times to lead and times to follow.  It teaches in a way you want to learn. 

Thank you AAP for taking this proactive stance.  Someone needed to step in and stop the madness.  The treadmill of achievement has set humanity back and the sooner people realize that the important skills have to be learned not taught, the sooner we’ll get back to life worth living.  

Read more about the AAP recommendations here.  

Read "Should we be rethinking Youth "Sailing" Programs?"

An Opti-mum sort of day! Two lone sailors have fun in company without racing on a lovely May Day.

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