Sailing camp event for youth on Sardis Lake

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2016

By Reid Posey

For any kids looking to get out on the water during the summer heat and to learn a new skill while they’re at it, local sailing group Blackjack Sailing’s got you covered for the month of June.

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Beginning Monday, Blackjack will be hosting the first of three week-long sailing day camps on Lower Lake Sardis. The camp is open to ages eight to 17, and every day should run from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joe Sabatier, executive director of Blackjack Sailing, said that campers should expect a full day of sailing exercises, while sprinkling in various camp games and activities designed to reinforce the skills being taught each day.

The typical schedule will involve a “chalk talk,” in which instructors will go over a lesson on a dry erase board with campers, followed by a land drill, in which campers can practice this lesson on dry land. Finally, campers will take what they have been learning to the water and apply the lesson at hand in a real-life scenario.

Beginners show interest

Sabatier said that each day will include a morning and an afternoon sail, as campers tackle the week’s objectives, including lessons about things like steering, wind awareness, and rigging and de-rigging.

Although Sabatier said that Blackjack is capable of accommodating sailors of all skill levels, the sailing camp appears to be attracting mostly beginners.

“What we’re finding is it’s a beginner’s camp because so few young people in North Mississippi have sailing experience,” he said.

Exposure to sailing is one thing that Sabatier thinks is so important about this camp. He and the rest of Blackjack hope that through things like this camp, they can cultivate a larger sailing community around Oxford and North Mississippi.

Aside from the camp, Sabatier said that Blackjack is looking to maintain sailing instruction throughout the rest of the year, through things like weekend events instead of day camps, and that they have already approached Ole Miss Outdoors about the possibility of hosting a weekend adventure at Sardis.

Sabatier said that they would gladly tailor instruction to fit different schedules and skill levels, so long as they help spread the love of sailing throughout the community. Though this is the first camp hosted by Blackjack, Sabatier said that hopefully, in a few years, this year’s campers will be the same ones coming back as counselors teaching an entire new crop of sailors.

Life lessons learned

Sabatier said that sailing can be a valuable experience for people of all ages for a variety of reasons.

“What makes it a worthwhile experience is that you can teach young people certain skills on a boat, and then you can watch the young people accomplish the skills on the boat, and then you can see them building stronger confidence in themselves,” he said.

Eventually, Sabatier hopes to garner enough interest to establish a sailing club in order to help people avoid the logistical difficulties of owning and maintaining a boat and to provide greater access to sailing throughout the local community.

To sign up for one of the camp’s week-long sessions, Sabatier said that interested parties can access and complete the registration form on their website,, or they could also download a physical copy of the application, scan it, and email it back to them at

Sabatier also wanted to stress the ability for people to contact Blackjack Sailing through the “contact us” tab on their website, as the group continues to try to attract people, not just for their day camp, but across all age groups in order to foster a growing sailing community for the Oxford area.