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Teen Responsibility

aboard the Chief Aptakisic

I was captain of the Canal Zone training schooner during its dying days. The community lost interests it the ship and the money to keep it going dried up. The teenagers were eager to keep the ship going and I was the only adult willing to take them on weekend cruises. We would leave Friday night, sail around out of sight of land for two days and nights, and come back Sunday afternoon.

I told the teenagers they had to assume full responsibility, including getting the ship ready for sailing, which included supplies, and they must assume full responsibility for the ship at sea. I will not intervene with their decisions even if it was bad, they had to learn from their mistakes. I will only intervened if the decision is too risky, which turned out to be rare.

About 2AM one night I was at the stern watching the boys and girls, ages 14 to 17, reducing sail getting ready for an approaching squall. I did not have to give any orders; the teen crew leaders gave the orders.

These teens were learning to accept risk and the responsibility that goes with it. Our society wants youth to take responsibility, but they don't want them to be exposed to risk. Exposure to risk teaches the art of self-responsibility and the development of quality decisions. This is the first lesson aboard tall ships.

Chief Aptakisic

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