A catamaran to Keewaydin: Children of migrant workers get a day of luxury, learning
A North Naples man gave 20 children of migrant workers a day of luxury and learning. The middle and high schoolers got a trip on a catamaran from Tin City to Keewaydin Island on Saturday where they learned everything from the local ecology to the careers in environmental studies to jobs aboard a boat.
The youngsters had never been on a catamaran before. They had never meandered through Gordon’s Pass past the mansions of Port Royal and they had never before set foot on Keewaydin Island.
“I think it is a great learning experience learning about the marine life,” said Greg Schott who runs the Joseph J. Schott Foundation and used funds to pay for the trip. “It was a great way for them to end the school year and get out on the beach and have a great learning experience that they would not otherwise be able to have.”
On the one hour trip to the island the captain taught the students about mangroves, estuaries, birds, oyster beds and environmental concerns. He also told them about what it takes to become a boat captain or have a career helping the environment.
“I think it’s important for these kids to know there are so many opportunities out there,” Schott said.
Mary Asta, who runs the Gargiulo Education Center in North Naples, agrees. She has arranged for the children to fly in planes at the Naples Airport, shadow a chef at Cypress Woods Country Club, learn about careers in healthcare and more.
Chris Lamb, the first mate on the Miss Naples, hopes the trip on Saturday sparks the youngsters to consider a career on the water.
“A love of sailing is always a good thing,” Lamb began. “It’s to get them interested in the marine environment like the oyster renovation project. It’s just for them to see what a difference it can make and how a little effort can go a long way.”
The Miss Naples is a 48 foot long, 26 foot wide, 65 foot tall, 21 ton catamaran. For the trip to Keewaydin the boat used its engines, though Lamb said many of their other outings head to the Gulf and use the sails.
The students say they loved the trip and are grateful to the sponsor who made it possible.
“My favorite thing was the boat ride,” said Rosalinda Mendez, 15.
“Hanging out with my friends was my favorite,” added Evelyn Martinez, 17. “I learned about the direction of the markers.”
Maria De Leon, 14, and Veronica Trinidad Lopez, 12, loved the boat and the beach and added that the trip was educational too.
“I learned about how oysters filter the water,” Maria said.
“I learned there was red tide at the beach. It was nasty,” Veronica added.
Juan Montes, 19 and Elver Alonso, 18, recently graduated from Gulf Coast High School. They said it was great to have a fun day with friends as an end of school year treat.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to come,” Elver said.
Juan Sanchez, 10, said he learned about the ospreys and the pelicans, but then talked about the greatest lesson learned on Saturday.
“To not bring your money in the water,” he said as he held up a soggy five dollar bill.