Onset Bay Center collaborates with schools, after-school clubs

Jul 19, 2021

The Onset Bay Center is buzzing this summer with a full slate of programming, including everything from sailing lessons to oyster growing to water safety for families. 

And many of those programs are in collaboration with organizations around town that educate and care for kids: Wareham CARES, Wareham Schools’ accelerated summer academy program, the Christopher Donovan Day School, and Onset Kidz Block, the program set up in the wake of the Boys and Girl’s Club’s abrupt closure this spring.

“I’m just thrilled that we’ve been able to kick off the summer with a bunch of fun programs,” said Kat Garofoli, the center’s director. “We have some really fantastic staff.”

Garofoli is also leading collaborations with older students at Wareham High School and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

All of the center’s sailing instructors are Mass Maritime cadets, and another cadet is working with the Department of Natural Resources to grow 40,000 scallops and 10,000 oysters. 

“I want our staff to be representative of our community,” Garofoli said. 

To that end, interested Wareham High students who are at least 14 years old can sign up for a program to help them prepare to work as junior sailing instructors next summer. No experience is necessary. Students will take intensive two-hour sailing lessons on Mondays and Thursdays through the summer, and volunteer at the center throughout the school year. Several slots are still open, so interested students should email Garofoli.

While most of the center’s week-long programs are full, there are openings in the teen beginner sailing programs scheduled for the weeks of August 2 and August 9. Scholarships are available for both sessions.

Many of the one-day programs still have space available.

Garofoli said she is committed to making sure those who are interested can access programs at the center — regardless of their financial status or comfort in the water.

“We meet kids where they’re at,” Garofoli said.

The center offers two programs each week in collaboration with the Gleason Family YMCA that are designed to help kids — and their families — get more comfortable in the water, and give them the skills they need to be safe. 

Each Wednesday, the center hosts youth swim safety nights, which include a 45-minute swim lesson starting at 5 p.m. The classes, which cost $10, include basic swim techniques and skills to help kids feel comfortable in the water.

Family swim safety nights are held each Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The evenings start with a 45-minute swim safety lesson to empower families to feel confident in the water, followed by a picnic on the beach provided by the center. The events cost $20, which covers up to a family of four. Participants should be prepared to go in the water and spend time on the beach.

For information about more of the center’s many programs, go to www.onsetbaycenter.org, email garofoli@savebuzzardsbay.org, or call 508-999-6363, ext. 227.