They say when we look back on our life we remember moments, not days.
Experiences make up those moments, and experiences are what UCAN provides our youth
This summer, thanks to an introduction arranged by UCAN Life Trustee Larry Hayes, UCAN youth were given an experience of a lifetime: setting sail on Lake Michigan on yachts and powerboats.
Over the course of 10 weeks, UCAN youth went on several different two-hour long trips, sailing under bright skies through the crisp Michigan waters.
The innovative program, dubbed Yachting for Youth, was managed by Gentre Vartan, 50-ton master yacht captain and owner of the Jolly Mon, one of the yachts used this summer.
“It was a pleasure to take the youth out,” he says. “When [the youth] first come down the dock, you can see both the anxiety and the excitement play out in many ways. It could be a smile, but could as easily be a defensive posture.”
For many youth, it was a brand new, yet unforgettable, experience.
Vartan, inspired by UCAN’s work and vision, was introduced to the organization by Hayes and was excited to give our youth a new perspective on the city. He and fellow yachtsmen Walter “Sonny” Lisowski and Joe Erlmann provided outings on their yachts and powerboats known as Jolly Mon, Nebula and Mirage.
“Our goal is to have each person smiling and laughing by the time we return,” he says.
The youth had “all hands on deck,” as they each were able to steer the yachts, while learning more about sailing and the beautiful architecture of the city.
“We teach the youth a little about boating and point out the buildings on Chicago’s beautiful skyline,” Vartan explains.
The youth sailed from Belmont and DuSable harbors, giving them a comprehensive view of downtown– a view Chicagoans don’t often see.
Vartan hopes this trip will inspire youth to continue to “learn the ropes” of sailing.
“[I] also advise any interested youth on ways they can continue being involved with boating.” Vartan encourages. “The Sea Scouts and the Judd Goldman Power and Sail Programs are great organizations.”
A new experience provides youth with different perspectives and opens their minds to previously undiscovered possibilities.
UCAN is always looking for new and exciting experiences for our young people. If you have ideas, please reach out to Ann Kniola at Ann.Kniola@ucanchicago.org or (773)290-5072.
By Carly Hanson