By Foresee Foundation
The maritime industry is the second largest market on St. Maarten. This means that there are many job opportunities for those who get introduced to this industry at a young age. Sailing is a great way to start, as it provides basic knowledge about wind, water and discipline. For those wanting to work on mega yachts, showing that they started sailing from a young age is a benefit. Sint Maarten Yacht Club (SMYC) is supported by a membership, many of whom are key individuals in the maritime industry.
They often take an interest in the youth sailors and then you see them take them on as employees. In recent years, we have raised funds to include underprivileged youth to learn how to sail at no cost. This includes individuals, as well as us, working with local schools.
What does your organization do and who is your target group?
SMYC Association promotes sailing on St. Maarten; it has a very successful after school program for the youth, and during the weekends, we also teach sailing to adults. Our main focus is to introduce many people to sailing, especially youth, as it teaches important life skills, such as respect for others, teamwork, maintaining self-control and persistence.
How does your organization contribute to a better St. Maarten for all?
Currently in the program, we have six sponsored children who enjoy classes for the duration of the season. In addition, we offer lessons to 24 children from two primary schools on a weekly basis. After we discovered that not all children know how to swim, we just started a “swim 2 sail” program, so children can learn how to swim before they start sailing, a requirement in order to start sailing lessons. We receive financial support from the Sint Maarten Trust Fund and technical support from the R4CR Program to further develop and grow our program.
What are some examples of activities that you host or have hosted?
Besides our regular sailing lessons, we host events for the students to showcase their skills. This is also a moment where families, friends and the membership can see how well the students are progressing. A personal connection and the community support are important for the students to excel.
Furthermore, we host a summer camp every year. In the last couple of years, we also found funds to include underprivileged students – not just to keep them entertained, but to introduce them to sailing in a fun and easy manner. When they show enthusiasm, we find sponsors so we can keep them in the program year-round. We often host fundraisers and once a year an open house to create awareness and find people to support the programs and students.
What is your message to the community?
There are many opportunities in the maritime industry; however, it can seem like the skills to find a job in this industry are very specific and hard to acquire. It truly is a trade to obtain – and by starting at a young age with something fun and sportive as sailing, you not only develop the required skills, but also make the contacts. After that, you can develop as you go and the opportunities are truly endless. From working on charter boats, to mega yachts, as a sail maker, marine carpenter, or rigger and, of course, there are jobs in provisioning, marketing and development as well. Once you have made the connection, it truly embraces you.
How can someone sign up to volunteer or support your organization?