Youth Summer Sailing Camps

2024 Summer Camp Sailing Programs & Registration

We plan to announce the 2024 summer camp sailing programs in March 2024. Our programs usually are fully subscribed, so we recommend registering early to reserve a space when registration becomes available.

The 2024 full-day programs probably will be like the 2023 programs, which ran Monday through Friday, from 9 AM to 4 PM. One-week and two-week sessions were available, with the second week having increased sailing curriculum depth. All sessions included an expanded on-the-water and on-land STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) curriculum. Our younger sailors learned in our Opti sailboats, while our older sailors used our 420 sailboats.

Note: Financial assistance may be available based upon confirmation of financial need.

Fun, Safe, and Accessible Sailing for Kids

Our core has always been our youth sailing programs delivered in a summer camp format. Our program is available to children ages 8 to 18 years old, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM. We welcome youths of all skill levels.

Sailing as a sport is a huge part of what we do, but in the greater scheme, we also try to introduce our students to the marine world in general and showcase different career opportunities in the field of science.

Sail Salem is developing additional programs for adults, and other programs to include youth groups from the local community. More information coming soon.


The Sail Salem youth summer camp is regulated by the Salem Board of Health, so we follow regulations commonly known as Christian’s Law, which is based on Massachusetts General Law chapter 111 section 127 ½ . Accordingly, all student sailors are swim tested on the first day of their program start date to ensure they are comfortable and safe in the water. Additionally, our students are required to wear US Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets (PFD) when on our boats. Students may bring their own certified PDF, or they can use a program provided life jacket. One lifeguard is required for every 25 students, but we are also staffed well above that.

All program instructors are First Aid and CPR certified, background checked, and well trained. The instructors have tons of experience on the water and are US Sailing Level 1 certified – 40+ hour, intensive sailing course that teaches instructors how to teach sailing but also how to do it in a very safe manner.

Additionally, the Sail Salem instructors are required to pass different practical tests that include safely driving our motorboats, which is one of the most important things when teaching young kids on the water. Sail Salem has 17-foot motorboats that follow and stay close to our student sailors. If we determine that an instructor needs to be in a sailboat with a student, we will always allow it. The instructors fulfill other prerequisites as well, such as safe sporting certifications.

We really make sure that we have the highest caliber of safety on the water.

Our Sailboats

For sailing classes, we mainly make use of Optimists and International 420s

Optimists (Optis)

Optimists (often referred to as Optis) are small sailboats, about 8 feet in length, with a single sail. They can be handled by one person. One of the most popular small sailing boats in the world, Optis are well suited for beginners. We call them bumper boats, and that’s how we get our youngest students really engaged—we put them in the Optis. It really empowers them. They’re in there without an instructor. We follow them in chase boats, and they really can take ownership of that boat.

Sailing an Optimist
Sailing an International 420

International 420s

When our students graduate from the Optis, they move to International 420s—larger boats, about 14 feet in length, with larger sails and an optional spinnaker and trapeze. 420s are used internationally as a high school and collegiate racing boat. So that’s where the sport of sailing kind of goes. Once our students have graduated Optis, we put two of them together in the 420s, and that’s where they can learn how to race or how to move around as the sport of sailing.

Group Sails

All camp programs include group sails on our catboats.

Winter Island

Our summer camps are headquartered on Winter Island in Salem Massachusetts. This site is such a beautiful place and it’s even listed as one of the best camping sites in New England. We’re lucky to be there. When we’re on land with our students, we’ve got so much space for land games or land drills, and just coming up with ways to have them burn energy.

Winter Island also protects the area where our students learn how to sail. It can block the wind, thereby enabling students to learn how to sail in a protected alcove. Once the kids get better, one of the big incentives is that they can sail through Salem Harbor and sail by all the bigger boats moored there. It’s a cool opportunity and one of the goals to becoming proficient sailors.  

50 Winter Island Road, Salem MA

Fort Pickering Light (also known as Winter Island Light) on Winter Island at the entrance to Salem Harbor

Click here to learn more about Winter Island