Going to sea is not easy. It never has been. Read diaries of anyone who has spent considerable time at sea and you will quickly learn to appreciate the grit, determination, and trust required to live and work alongside a small group of fellow sailors. The twenty-one Proctor students aboard Ocean Classroom will soon experience first hand the bonds forged at sea.
On Friday afternoon, these intrepid sailors gathered their duffle bags, walked down the gangway, hugged their families and friends, and boarded the schooner Roseway. As they stepped over the taffrail onto Roseway, they walked into a new chapter of their lives; a chapter yet to be written, but undoubtedly one of the most memorable of their young lives.
The annual Ocean Classroom send-off is perhaps the most emotional of any day in a student's Proctor journey. Every off-campus program requires families to place an incredible amount of trust in Proctor, but there is something unique about sending your child to sea for nine weeks. The 135 feet of schooner all of a sudden feels very small and vulnerable against the vastness of the ocean. And yet year after year, for 26 straight years, parents give final hugs and watch Roseway push off from the dock. Year after year, parents agree to the pact that there will be one phone call midway through the voyage, but otherwise this weekly blog post from Ocean Classroom will serve as their sole window into their child's life.
These twenty-one students will return changed. They will have experienced hardship, seen indescribable beauty, and built friendships that will last the rest of their lives. They will explore port cities, talk to strangers and listen to their stories, while documenting their own. They will learn to navigate by the stars, read in pitching waves, and appreciate the stillness of a midnight watch. They will get seasick and will climb Roseway's rigging to get a perspective on the ocean few will ever have. Their bunks will smell, their clothes will be filthy, and they will be amazed by the food that can be created in a five foot square galley.
Perhaps most importantly, they will stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about each other. Ocean Classroom's motto over the past quarter century has been: Ship, Shipmate, Self. When you prioritize care for your ship and your shipmates, you will find yourself well cared for as a result. It is a lesson that is simply too hard to teach in another setting. There are too many excuses on land, too many opportunities to take the easy route instead of the necessary one.
This is why we love these moments when our students have the confidence to step off-campus into the unknown. Every Ocean alum present at Friday's send-off shared their own personal journey through the impossible to the unimaginable. Echos of "this was the hardest, and most amazing two months of my life" rung throughout Rowes Wharf and reassured the student crew of Ocean Classroom 2019 that they had just made the best decision of their lives.