A "first-of-it's-kind" sailing camp is giving local kids their first taste of the freedom of the water. 

Rising seventh-grader Maggie Scanlan of Boise was among those who signed up for the pilot program, born of a partnership between Boise Parks and Recreation and Southern Idaho Sailing Outreach.

The summertime class outfits participants with donated gear, certified sailing instructors, and a fleet of neon-sailed boats with which to practice the basics of the sport. 

"We practice bringing the boon from one side to the other to safely jive," Scanlan explained. 

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Marie Hattaway, community partnerships and youth rec manager with Boise Parks and Recreation, said this inaugural camp has been two years in the making. The seed was planted after Southern Idaho Sailing Outreach approached the city about possible ways to get more youth involved in sailing. 

"We have the resources here in Idaho to offer people that access to the Olympic sport of sailing," she said. "It took some infrastructure, it took some heavy lifting, but why not?"

For each day of the week-long camp, the kids load up at Fort Boise for the trip out to Spring Shores Marina at Lucky Peak Reservoir. From there, Hattaway said, they spend the morning on the water, before a break for lunch and an afternoon classroom learning component, before heading back out to sail. The camp wraps up daily at about 4 p.m. 

Hattaway said it was exciting to see the students - all of whom are new to sailing - having fun on the water while learning a new skill.

"I cannot be more thrilled to see how quick these kids are picking it up, I could not have imagined it was going to be this fast," she said. 

Scanlan said she is already picking up the sport. 

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"This camp has been really helpful with that and like learning the parts of the boat and how to rig it and that sort of thing," she said. "It was fun, because you get to control the boat and get to do all of it, control all of it."

But the classes have benefits beyond just the technical know-how, according to Hattaway. 

"It supports their physical and mental health, gets them off their devices, it gets them STEM education during their summer, and gives them access to the Olympic sport of sailing," she said.

Because it was offered as a pilot program, the sailing camp is not accepting any more campers for this year. But Hattaway says the sailing camp will be offered along with other Boise Parks and Recreation activity classes next summer. 

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