When Brian and I became involved with the Camp Chingachgook Y-Knot sailing program in May, we couldn’t have imagined that a program like this even existed, and that the staff, the volunteers, and most importantly the sailors, operate with the idea that there are no barriers. There is always a solution no matter the challenge. The energy of this group has no limits.
This past weekend culminated in the Annual Y-Knot Regatta in which Camp Chingachgook welcomed sailors from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Canada, and the Capital Region of New York for two days of racing. The out-of-town boats pulled in and launched Friday night and were ready for the all-important task of boat rigging in the wee Saturday morning hours.
Brian and I were assigned as Dock Hands under the masterful guidance and direction of Dock Master Don. His knowledge of “all things sailing”, his unbelievable organization, and above all, his calm and reassuring demeanor was key to dock activities and the all-important link to sending the sailors on their way with the confidence of a safe and uneventful return to land.
There were a multitude of other volunteers and staff including people involved with chase boat activities that insure sailors’ safety on the water, the Committee Boat group that was in charge of the actual race components of the Gold and Silver fleets, and all of the other people who had a hand in providing food, water, and the hospitality that made everyone feel so welcomed.
Aside from a few minor mishaps to myself that I have only me to blame, which included clunking myself on the head with the metal lift bar, hitting myself in the chin with the same apparatus, and a few scrapes and gouges on my shins and knees that seem to naturally occur with climbing and crawling on and around boats, we remained intact. I can’t swear that our little Dock Hand group didn’t look like the Crash Test Dummies a few times, especially when my cousin-in-law Bob went overboard from the dock. He was a mighty good sport as was evidenced by the good-natured look on his face when he emerged from the water. After rescuing his hat, we helped him back on to the dock. Beyond being a good sport, he’s also my hero for his tireless work with this group and other groups that enhance the lives of many people.
We have one more sailing day next weekend, and then the program will rest for the winter. Members will meet over the winder a few times to plan for next year, and we’ll get started again in May. Our learning has encompassed the art of rigging boats and sailing, the value of people coming together to make things happen, and the reinforcement of the power of the human spirit. The sailors’ bravery and commitment to keep living meaningful lives is an on-going lesson to all who are willing to be students. The spirit of my new friends has impacted me in ways that are not easily translated into words. And although there were actual winners of the racing fleets, we have all gained the notoriety that goes with being in first place.
How could we not?
Aside from our main duties related to sailing, Brian and are well aware of how lucky we are to have access to beautiful Lake George and its surrounding natural habitat.
Before Breakfast on Sunday morning, Brian had a chance to fish, and I took a little hike around the Wetlands Loop for the umpteenth time since first coming to Camp Chingaghook eight years ago. The flora and fauna are always changing, and although I didn’t see any animals this time, the beauty of the landscape didn’t fail to ground me and remind me of the extraordinary miracle that is our natural world.