Students Board Oriole for adventure sail

oriole student adventure sail

Students wait for instructions on how to hoist Oriole’s sail.

As part of HMCS Oriole’s “Youth Adventure Challenge,” 14 high school students from across Canada left their homes to come aboard and sail with the navy crew for five days.

Students were selected through a competitive application process organized by the Canadian Student Leadership Association, which invited senior Leadership 11 and 12 students from secondary institutions to apply.

Only those applications with glowing academic credentials, extensive volunteer work, and well-crafted application essays were chosen.

The high number of applicants was expected, as the entire challenge, apart from transportation, is free of cost.

Students travelled from Quebec, Alberta, and the interior of B.C to set sail on April 13 from Esquimalt Harbour, and many had no experience sailing.

“Some of them have never seen the ocean,” says Oriole’s Captain LCdr Jeffrey Kibble.

“Some of them have never been on a boat, and some of them have never even left their province. So for them to suddenly come to another part of Canada and have an adventure on the West Coast is truly amazing.”

As the crew, the students completed tasks normally expected of a fully-trained crew, such as hoisting and lowering the 136 kilogram main sail multiple times a day, helping cook meals, cleaning, and practicing safety training. Students took turns holding different crew positions, acting as the supervisory Buffer, the “Shack” or Chief Cook, and the “Stokes” or Chief Engineer.

They also rotated watches, with each student working one mandatory night shift.

“They aren’t here for a cruise,” says LCdr Kibble on the first day.

“They are here to learn from us, and what we’re going to teach them is that teamwork and leadership are necessary to sail this vessel. The more responsibility they take on, the better.”

The young crew is far from daunted, and when the ship launched off into the stormy weather from the base, they quickly became accustomed to the navy’s language and task expectations.

“It’s all new,” says Charlie Smith, a 17-year-old from Kelowna.

“We’re all figuring out what the next thing to do is, how to tie this or how to knot that, what to pull and who to listen to. But I’m so amped up right now.”

Students met for the first time one day before the sail, and had to work together to ensure the sail went smoothly, especially during difficult weather conditions and any other unforeseen challenges.

Even as the high winds set in, and the ship heeled over from the increasingly choppy waves, students calmly took their positions on deck to lower the sails and help steer.

In the galley below, more students took turns as the “Molly,” washing dishes and tidying up the eating and sleeping quarters.

“The fact is this particular vessel can’t be sailed by one person,” says Bill Conconi, Executive Director of the Canadian Student Leadership Association, who accompanied the students.

“We’ve got 14 different high schools represented here, and they must work as a team to succeed.”

In its tenth year, the challenge has sent over 100 students on the adventure, demonstrating the navy’s long standing prioritization of leadership training, and its firm partnership forged with the Canadian Student Leadership Association.

LCdr Kibble says that by supporting the challenge, the navy is able to connect with Canadians beyond the coast, and Oriole is given a chance to reach youth inland that may not have direct access to the navy.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for the youth to understand the navy better,” adds Conconi. “Many of them see that it isn’t at all what they expected it to be. We’ve had participants go on to the Royal Military College, and others to join the navy, after recognizing that the military’s type of leadership style is just what they are looking for.”

Rachel Lallouz
Staff Writer

Filed Under: Top Stories


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.