Greater Cleveland is a wonderful place!  Yes, we whine about LeBron James and our awful winters, but right now we are having an amazing summer.  And that’s a great time to have a gem like Lake Erie!  Combine that with our amazing metroparks and you can enjoy nature in many ways!  (Yes, even those nasty winters when we can go cross-country skiing, sledding, etc…)  My youngest son is participating in the Spirit of America program.

From their website:

“The Spirit of America Youth Education Program was developed by the Foundation of the same name and opened with a pilot program with 58 children, in Lake County Ohio. Initiated in the spring of 1995, under the direction of Harry L. Allen Jr., owner and President of Great Lakes Power Products, the program is now promoted through public, private and home schooled programs, as an educational tool and not as an extracurricular activity. Programs are “owned” and facilitated by YMCA’s, Scout Camps, Metroparks and city parks, colleges, and community boating organizations. Spirit of America and the equipment necessary to manage a successful program are gifted to facilitating organizations by the Foundation. Since opening, the program has grown to include over seven counties throughout Ohio and into Iowa, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, Kentucky, Hawaii, North Carolina, and Washington DC. Since its inception the Foundation has educated thousands of students (and their families) in the importance of boating and water safety.  The numbers are growing much more quickly now that so many new states programs are opening.” 

The program is free to 7th graders in Lake County and begins with classroom instruction that ultimately leads to the kids obtaining a boating license.  When summer begins, they head to the water for instruction on:

jon boats
jet skis
and a trip to the Coast Guard station including a ride on the Coast Guard boat.

The instructors are amazing with the kids.  They make it fun – but it is a lot of hard work for them!  Many of the instructors have become familiar to me and my kids and I am grateful for their hard work and dedication. Yesterday, even though they were on the water, it was 98 degrees!

We took advantage of the day and relaxed by the beach.  I love watching all the action on the water.  The kayaks went all the way out to the break wall – which doesn’t look far, but I’m at full zoom on the camera.  They got out of the boats and it was only two feet deep!

There is emphasis on boating and water safety.  They tip the boats and learn to right them.

It amazes me that one man had a vision and resources to start this program.  Check out the locations at which it is currently offered and take advantage of it if you can!