Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dear Instructors...

I had been meaning to write a personal letter to the instructors before we met this coming week... but with only a couple days left it is unlikely to be that formal of a start to our relationship. Some of the greatest accomplishments are the result of jumping in with both feet. I am sure, on both sides, some anxiety exists over the arrival of a new "director" for Island Sail. I hope that any anxiety is soon dissipated and transformed in a collective renewal of efforts to sustain and improve the experience of Island Sail. I would be remiss to not thank Deb Flagg for replying to my email when I responded to the posting for the director's position and for the confidence and support she has shown in helping me prepare to lead well. Her orientation session was the most organized introduction to a position that I have ever entered into and her passion for and dedication to the success of Island Sail are traits I hope to honor in my service. ~Thanks again Deb!

So... since I didn't get to the letter to instructors; the following is in place of that letter. I'm hoping the Internet will help me express some things that I would have trouble getting across with text alone...

Dear Instructors,

I hope you looking forward to the start of Island Sail 2007. I can assure you that I am! As July 5th approaches I keep thinking more and more about all the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead. I am confident that this will be a summer of learning and growth for me (my favorite kind of any season). I hope each of you will arrive with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm for what could be and realize that you play the key role in what will be. What will Island Sail be in 2007? Challenging, innovative, fun, rewarding, life-changing... Think about it and we will talk about it on July 5th when we meet.

Below are a couple links to things that get me thinking about being a leader and part of Island Sail. Unique, challenging, inspiring... anyone seeing themes starting to emerging here ;o)

... going beyond the call of duty to get the job done!

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video. It makes me think about how some people have the most interesting jobs... unique roles in life that they sought to create. You don't have to jump out of a plane to be thrilled by life. Maybe your experience at Island Sail will lead to the thrills that shape the rest of you life. A the very least I hope it will shape skills in you that contribute meaningfully to your future.

Rule # 16: Do not play in the surf with the chase-boats.

While some things seem like a good idea at the time... in hindsight some rules make sense. We will hopefully avoid the types of experiences in this video clip (download .wmv).

... dare to dream - take action to make those dreams come true.

Is Island Sail the kind of place where dreams are born and skills to reach those dreams are cultivated? I wonder where the courage to dream in the girl in this video started ... who inspired her attitudes and determination?

... I believe I can fly.

This video just seems to get you in the mood for a day of sailing... and learning from your mistakes. Remember, when in doubt - let it out!
Hi again... its me :o) I don't have much to report in terms of Island Sail... except that I sent out invitations to everyone to join up on Island Sail's new Google Group team space. I am eager to hear ideas from program leaders about how the group space can be useful, to improve Island Sail. My past experience tells me it will be a growth process. What we accomplish this year, harvesting and organizing existing knowledge from Island Sail into these information and communication tools, will provide a foundation that will promote many rich opportunities in coming years.

I have spent the past two days "out to sea". I own a 2o' Sea Hunt, center-console, fishing boat. Moving from Michigan to Vermont and then from Vermont to Maine didn't include moving a boat. I bought this boat last August... as soon as I knew we were moving to Maine's coast. Getting settled somewhere makes it hard to keep up with the demands of a sailboat... but I wanted to get out on the ocean and this was a good option for making it quick & easy. I live on the Union River in Ellsworth - right across from the boat launch in town. It is an easy haul around (less than a mile) to pop the boat in and enjoy a beautiful ride down the river, into the ocean bay between Mt. Desert Island (Bar Harbor) and the Deer Isle peninsula. A trip up and down the river with a spin out to the ocean makes you feel lucky to be alive. I have a wicked streak going of not catching a fish on my new boat... not for lack of trying. I did catch my first fish of the year earlier in the week, but it was on a charter in Boothbay, on Tuesday (Mackerel). I still have not caught a striper. We went to Boothbay on Monday and Tuesday - making it our third-annual trip to Boothbay for the Windjammer Festival. If you have never been, I highly recommend it.

I went out last night on the boat from 7:30 - 11:00 pm. It was the night before full-moon and the moon lit up the river, making a special ride. Today, I struck out in the morning and rolled around in a blowing west wind until early afternoon. The dog loved it... sleeping in the front seat for most of the trip. I marked a lot of fish and had fun using the GPS to look back on all of the tracks I had made in the ocean since last year... no spots marking fish caught locations. Maybe I will find someone in Vinalhaven that can teach me a thing or two about fishing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Web Site - Always Under Construction

I have been keeping busy today setting up the framework and components of the new Island Sail web site. The transfer of site content from the current site will take place over the course of the summer season. The bulk of the work will be entered into as a collaborative process with our instructors and board members - to consider and evolve potential uses for new site features. Obviously, the blog is a new feature and presents a wide range of application opportunities. This was the first time I have created a blog with Blogger since it was upgraded this past December. I have used WordPress for blog projects in the past, but chose to try and align tools for this season that would provide easy access and interaction for instructors. I am impressed with Google's improvements to Blogger (it must be the the result of leadership by Google's founder - a fellow University of Michigan grad :o) In addition to the new blog, I have set up a Google Group team space to help expand collaboration and communication between Island Sail staff members. It will provide the means for documenting and organizing program information resources - to synthesize them into formal curriculum and instructional assets. I am confident that our tech-savvy instructors will think up a variety a ways to apply this community building tool set. Also, I have created a online calendar that will be used to post special Island Sail events and a schedule of program activities.

The initial design for the new Island Sail web site will undergo consistent transformation in the coming year, which will be shaped by input and feedback of staff and program participants. I impressed myself by creating my first drop-down menu system from scratch... although I am a bit concerned it will present some hurdles for making easy alterations. This is one of those challenges with lot of potential for learning from mistakes ;o)

I encourage people to provide feedback and ideas related to each of these new tools. My experience designing web sites for a wide variety of projects and organizations has prepared me for the inevitable suggestion that I should have picked different colors or explanation of the difference between patience and patients. It is a starting place... stay tuned and share in our growth!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Welcome to Island Sail 2007

Hello! It is just about time to unfurl the sails and launch into another summer of sailing at Island Sail. My name is Mark Arnold and I am the new Program Director for the sailing school. I hope our veteran sailing school instructors are as excited as I am to get things rolling and are eager to improve and expand on the new US Sailing curriculum. As the new director, my primary goal is to provide leadership and focus on implementation of the US Sailing instructional program, building on the foundations that were started last season. Together I will be working with our instructors to add unique character and experiences to our program in Vinalhaven. Participants can expect a challenging and rewarding learning experience - mixed with lots of fun and achievement.

A bit about me: I am originally from Traverse City, Michigan - a place with many similarities to the Gulf of Maine area. Growing up I spent summers in and around the Great Lakes and was an avid sailer and windsurfer. I worked for and ran a boat charter and rental business in the summer, for nearly a decade, after graduating from high school in 1986. I received my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Education from the University of Michigan and earned my Master's degree in Educational Technology and Instructional Design from Michigan State University. I have been a professional educator, coach, and educational consultant for the past 12 years. My wife, Deborah, is also a professional educator and she will be around to help out at the Sailing School this summer.

We moved to Maine, from Vermont, last summer and work for the Deer Isle - Stonington Schools. I am an educational technology specialist and work to help educators apply technology and transform instructional practice. We live in Ellsworth and are looking forward to our summer at sea!

This summer I will work closely with our instructors to advance development of the Island Sail program and make it unique and rewarding experience, where participants learn, grow, and develop skills that will encourage a love for sailing and seamanship. We will work together to make it a time full of smiles and pride in facing challenges and developing the type of character that is associated with effort and achievement.

As the summer sessions progress, check back, our instructors and I will be posting b-log entries that will share experiences and accomplishments. I look forward to meeting everyone and hope it will be summer full of fun and unforgettable memories for all!