The view from my office is pretty hard to beat. Bellingham Bay, framed by Taylor Dock to the east and the Canadian Coastal Range in the distance, is just a few feet from my window. The view is a constant reminder of why I am here: to connect folks with this wonderful resource in our backyard - Bellingham Bay.
I am the education coordinator at the Community Boating Center in Fairhaven, and I'm responsible for creating, facilitating and marketing our adult classes and youth camps. The center is a nonprofit organization that has a vision to become a community hub for non-motorized small boat enthusiasts. We have classes, rentals and safety resources for kayakers, sailors, stand-up paddleboarders and rowers, and year-round storage for just about any boat without a motor (as long as it's under 24 feet).
My office and our boatyard is tucked away in Fairhaven Harbor, just north of the Amtrak station, and just east of the Alaska Ferry terminal, next to the public boat launch. Our bright teal-and-orange buildings are easy to spot, but still can be a challenge to find.
Once you've found us, though, you'll see why we're there. With the boat launch a stone's throw away, and the harbor protecting us from the predominant southerly winds, we're in the absolute best location on Bellingham Bay for safe and easy access to the water.
As education coordinator, I spend the majority of my time communicating - with students, instructors, committee members, businesses, schools, board members and the media about our offerings, potential partnerships, events, internships, volunteer opportunities and much more. This communication happens, like it does with most of us in the 21st century, through a wide range of electronic and traditional means. The challenge is to be heard and seen, and to be considered by our community to be essential - worthy of people's attention and involvement - when there's so much out there to compete with.
Our most popular classes by far are our introductory 101 classes in sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, though our youth camps are growing quickly. We are extremely thorough in our classes, as we want to be certain that anyone who graduates from one of our classes is well aware of the skills and safety precautions they need to boat safely on the bay. Safety is in our mission, and we take it very seriously. We challenge our students, and they are grateful for that when they finish a class.
For the last 12 years I've been involved in education in some form or another. My work has ranged from teaching social studies, special education and coaching in public schools, to teaching environmental education and sailing outdoors, to guiding youth groups on whitewater rafting trips across the Pacific Northwest. When it comes to teaching, I certainly believe that content is important and always has its place.
However what keeps me continually inspired to be involved in education is its ability to create an opportunity for personal growth - for students to discover themselves, their voice, and their potential. And while there are a number of reasons why I believe the Community Boating Center's classes are beneficial to individuals and the community (such as sharing skills for safe boating, promoting physical health, connecting us to our local environment and creating a sense of ownership in it, and building relationships and community around healthy activities), I come to work every day because I believe in our classes' ability to help people discover themselves and their potential.
A great opportunity to try something new is coming up this Saturday, June 16. The center and the Corinthian Yacht Club are providing an opportunity for anyone to get a taste of what sailing is like in our fourth annual Discover Sailing Day. Both organizations will provide sailboats and skippers to take participants out on Bellingham Bay for one- to two-hour sailing tours.
The event is an excellent opportunity for those who have never been sailing or who don't have access to sailboats to experience the magic of sailing. Suggested donations are $15 for individuals and $30 for families of up to four, with all donations supporting youth camps scholarships.
Reservations are required, so please call in advance: 360-714-8891. Hope to see you out there!
Dallas Betz is the education coordinator at the Community Boating Center in Bellingham. To find out more about sailing, kayaking and stand-up paddling classes and youth camps at the Community Boating Center, visit boatingcenter.org, call 360-714-8891, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by 555 Harris Ave. in Fairhaven, near the Amtrak Station. Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to Julie.email@example.com.