A tip

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Why would a high school student not want to seize the opportunity to spend several weeks abroad on a great adventure? The surprising frequent answer: he or she doesn’t want to spend time away from a sweetheart. Now, we have no statistics on this, but we’ve heard it more than a few times. Here’s a bit of advice: don’t let any great opportunity slip through your fingers—grab it! You don’t want to look the word “regret” up in a dictionary one day only to see your picture. A few weeks apart is not a disaster.

It's Experience That Makes The Difference.

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Albert Einstein once quipped that an education is what remains after you forget everything you learned in the classroom. At QBE (Qualified By Experience), we try to keep sailing instruction to a minimum and let crew members learn the ropes by themselves. That includes navigation. We teach participants how to do it, but then it’s up to them to chart their courses. Given a number of choices based on tides, wind, and weather, crew members decide where they want to go and how to get there. Sometimes, things go pear-shaped. For example, once in the Mediterranean, a crew set out for St.-Tropez, in France, and wound up instead in Sanremo, in Italy. Mistakes happen. But everybody learned something about nautical navigation that day.

We use the boats we use because they are small enough for neophytes to sail without a lot of hands-on supervision. Of course, an instructor/skipper is always on hand to make sure the boat and crew are never in danger—and to answer questions—but our crew members are largely on their own after a few days of orientation. In fact, one of the biggest challenges we face is getting our skippers to shut up, stand back, and avoid the temptation to “over-teach.” When people learn by experience, they tend not to forget the lessons they learn.

World-Class Mentoring

Here's a question: What do several Hollywood movie stars and directors, a Formula One racing champion, numerous high-profile CEOs, ambassadors, and even a few members of the world's royal families have in common? Answer: They all have children who once were coached, taught, or mentored by ELS director Will Sutherland.

Why Traditional Boats?

Pilot Cutter in St.-Malo Bay, Brittany

Traditional boats in good working order are relatively rare. They were never produced on modern assembly lines, and only a few boatwrights still build them. That means they are/were hand-crafted by passionate artisans. And so we like them. Each of ours has its own unique personality, and both were constructed not only with old-school expertise but with love. Of course, with so much rope, they're a lot of fun to sail.

If it's character you're trying to build, it helps to surround yourself with things that exude (charm and) character. That would include not only our boats, but many of the places we visit. 

You can use all sorts of boats to go on a sailing expedition. But why settle for something ordinary when something truly exceptional is available?

Youth and Self-Confidence

In mid-January (2017), The Telegraph, a daily newspaper in the UK, ran an article under the headline "Half of young people have so many 'emotional problems' they cannot focus at school, study finds".

The following is an excerpt:

Professor Louise Arseneault, ESRC Mental Health Leadership Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, said: "Given the profound uncertainty surrounding recent political events and the fact that young people face the worst job prospects in decades, it's not surprising to read that one in four young people aged 16 to 25 don’t feel in control of their lives.

Professor Arseneault continued: “Although it’s obviously alarming that these concerns play on young minds, it’s encouraging to see that young people have an interest in actively shaping their own future.”

 Of those who do not feel they are in control of their lives, 61 per cent said they felt this was because they lack self-confidence [emphasis ours], and that this holds them back.

Sixty-one percent? Wow!

This blog is full of other posts, including links to news articles, that help identify the challenges of growing up in the modern world. Just scroll down. If you're looking for tried-and-true solutions, you have our coordinates.


Heuristic Learning In The Digital Age

Dave Snowden, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge, and Joshua Cooper Ramo, co-CEO of Kissinger Associates and former senior editor of Time magazine, sat down in April 2016 at the New York Public Library for a conversation entitled "Edge Tools in a Digital Age: Social Processes in a Radically Contingent World."

At one point in the discussion, Mr. Snowden made an interesting comment about virtual reality (VR). He said, "If you don't engage the body in the (VR) game, you don't have a proper game. You haven't got stress, you haven't got chemical release...  [For example] Smell is an important determination of trust... It's the level of stimulus that concerns me. We are increasingly learning that things happen in the body chemically which influence consciousness, which has been vastly overlooked, and if you just rely on visual and auditory stimulus you're damaging human intelligence."

Adventure education is about heuristic learning—engaging all the senses in transformative trial-and-error experiences. When it comes to resilience, strong personal relationships, cultural fluency (and perhaps even cognitive acuity), there really is no satisfactory substitute for authenticity. We still learn best by taking on new challenges in the real world.

The more challenging the task...

—Jesse Itzler, excerpted from a video that appeared on the website Business Insider. Jesse, a highly successful serial entrepreneur, hired an ex-Navy SEAL to live with him in his NYC apartment for a month and teach him a few things about life. This is just one of his 'takeaways.'

Essential Skills for Tomorrow's World

In late February, 2016, GPS (CNN) host Fareed Zakaria interviewed Alec Ross, former senior adviser for innovation to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and author of a new book, The Industries of the Future. "It is a book written for recent graduates, predicting what the next 20 years will bring, which industries will boom, which jobs will grow, and perhaps most importantly, which skills will be necessary to compete." Here is an excerpt from that interview.

—ZAKARIA: So young people listening to this, parents listening to this, will wonder what should we do to prepare for this new world?

—ROSS: I have a 13-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. And I really wrote this book to try to light a little path for them. Sixty-five percent of all jobs for children entering primary school today will go into job titles that don't presently exist. 

And so I have a chapter in the book called "The Most Important Job You'll Ever Have," which is parenting, which focuses on the skills and attributes that today's kids will need in tomorrow's world. 

And I point out two things, first: interdisciplinary learning. We've got to be able to take science, technology, engineering and mathematics and combine that with skills in the humanities focused on 65 percent of jobs go into jobs that don't exist. [...] I point out two things. first, interdisciplinary learning. We've got to be able to take science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and combine that with skills in the humanities focused on persuasion, teaching and other such things. 

The second thing I would say is language learning, foreign languages and computer languages. The world is growing more global. People who are prepared to work on a 196-country chessboard are going to be those who are best positioned [emphasis ours]—and computer coding because, if you are a competent coder, you basically have a few decades' worth of guaranteed employment in front of you. 

The drums are getting louder: early international exposure is becoming increasingly essential in the age of globalization. Just something to bear in mind when considering summer programs for teenagers.

The full transcript can be found here, near the bottom of the page:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1602/14/fzgps.01.html