Each fall since 2001, the grade 9 students of Trinity Christian in Calgary, Alberta, sail along the West Coast with the SALTS program, building faith and enhancing community during their voyage. The students spend five days aboard the Pacific Grace and the Pacific Swift, 80-foot two-masted schooners, learning the ropes of life at sea while learning about themselves as well.
Goals of the adventure include community building, leadership development, and helping students take risks and adapt to challenges outside of their comfort zones. The trip also provides a unique culminating experience for the students’ final year together at Trinity. “Students learn tolerance and sharing; they really grow together,” said Michelle Duimel, the school’s principal. Duimel has taken the trip several times, and her daughters have also been participants.
Students work hard during their five-day excursion, doing everything from keeping watch to swabbing the deck. They also have the opportunity to visit historic sites, including a marine park only accessible by water.
The students learn to rely on each other while cultivating their own leadership skills. They are asked to be responsible and ethical, while being allowed challenges that extend their boundaries.
Preparation for the trip begins in the eighth grade, with fundraising so that finances don’t become an issue for any of the students, and goal-setting so students are prepared for their last year at Trinity. “The whole eighth grade year is fundraising, which involves biweekly hotdog lunches for the school, bottle drives, running the canteen for sporting events, bake sales, and several other fundraising ideas,” said Duimel. “These projects help build ownership for the trip as well.”