Encouraging Stewardship and Recreation at Lake Champlain

March 16, 2018
Group of children in front of the Community Sailing Center

Spanning over 120 miles and straddling the U.S.-Canadian border, Lake Champlain is a breathtaking freshwater lake celebrated by local communities for its rich history, diverse wildlife, and recreational opportunities. The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center (CSC), based in Burlington, Vermont, is a community-based nonprofit which acts as a hub for Burlington and the surrounding areas. In addition to providing access to the lake, the CSC hosts its own programs and community initiatives to provide educational resources and recreational opportunities to its over 7,000 members. CSC’s signature programs are tailored specifically to engage student groups, at-risk youth, women and girls, and individuals with disabilities.

The CSC’s signature programs balance water recreation, accessibility, environmental education, and inclusion to create a sense of knowledge, ownership, and pride for Lake Champlain and its communities.

With the goal of making the programs on Lake Champlain open, available, and accessible to all, the CSC also works to provide scholarships to individuals who otherwise would not be able to partake in the organization’s educational programming. The scholarships enable groups such as military veterans, low-income students, at-risk youth, and individuals with disabilities to learn about Lake Champlain and participate in activities run by the CSC team.

One of the more unique signature programs offered by the Champlain Community Sailing Center is the Floating Classrooms initiative, which seeks to engage local students in lake ecology and STEM education through keelboat sailing and interactive lessons. Some topics that are included in the Floating Classroom curriculums are community engagement, teamwork, local watershed ecology, geologic history, physics of sailing, and understanding wind, weather, and climate. These lessons teach students how to face challenges and nurture a relationship with the environment while simultaneously aligning participants with Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards. The CSC offers several other signature programs including Women in Wind; a program designed to empower women and girls of the community through myriad health and sport related activities.

The Floating Classrooms initiative, a CAF Canada project, was made possible by a $20,000 gift received from a Canadian donor.

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