Think of it: kids 8 to 13 years old sailing smoothly on the Marco waters.
The City of Marco Island provides that opportunity in its Opti Camp Introduction to Sailing, which has been in operation for 10 years.
The Opti sailing boat was designed by Clark Mills in Florida in 1947 at the request of the local businessman's Optimist Club, which presumably was what gave the boat its name. It was later introduced to Denmark and the United Kingdom before spreading internationally. The International Optimist Dinghy Association, the governing body for this class of boats, now has 112 member countries.
The city was very thankful to the Bill Rose Marco River Marina for allowing the camp to be operated there and now it is at the Marco Island Community Sailing Center along the Marco River at the Marco Yacht Club.
It has boat storage for the 13 Opti prams used for sailing, a nice dock site and picnic tables where classes can be held. At another storage location are six two-person boats (420s).
The objective of the one-week course is to follow U.S. Sailing guidelines to earn certification for Small Boat Sailing. Opti boats are single sailing vessels about seven feet long.
Sue MacMorris is the head instructor and coach for the program. She receives assistance from other certified instructors, including M.A. Kline, former fleet commander of the Marco Island Yacht Club.
Kline said that the kids learn valuable skills and build confidence.
"Many have never been in a boat," Kline said. "But once they go through the capsize and recovery drill they gain confidence and do well through the rest (of the learning)),"
Arianna and Brian Laurent have taken the course the past three years.
Arianna, 10, who won a sailing race on Friday, said, "I like it when you are going fast and have that feeling of control."
Brian, 12, said, "Sailing is a very active time. Once you get the feeling you know sailing is meant for you."
"The Little Red Book," plots the learning course. Wind direction, rigging, knots and lines, steering, tacking, and overboard recovery are some of the points to be learned for certification.
MacMorris tossed in a fun way to learn about recovery, using coconuts, fondly named "Wilson," for the students to "rescue." Jasmin Schauer, 9, and Bella Peters, 9, were all smiles when they rescued "Wilson."
Schauer enjoyed the coneraderie with other kids her age. "You also get to solo sail and learn about safety," she said.
Other participants in the course were Declan Keefe, Kasey and Ryenn Hart, Yasmine Mettawa and Rocky Gurgenidze.
Assisting MacMorris is son Jordan, Kline, and volunteers Jeroen, 16, and Eline Poelstra, 13, who took the course a year ago.
The course runs weekly through Aug. 17, with the week of July Fourth off. The cost is $90 for Marco residents and $108 for nonresidents.
Once the "sailors" have been certified the next step can be Intermediate Sailing. It is a course that runs over four weeks, headed by Rocky Cale, president of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center. This program can advance participants into sailing competition.
Zachariah Shemel, 11, has begun competing in area regattas.
Also for ages 8 to 13, the next course begins on July 16, going from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Cost of the course is $320 for Marco residents and $384 for nonresidents.
Preregistration is required for both courses. Call the Parks & Recreation Department at 642-0575.