This summer, I joined Nik Vigener and Steve Holland to volunteer as sighted canoe guides for summer campers at Carroll Center for the Blind. We have had an SGH presence with the center for the past seven years, and this summer we made up the entire volunteer team for the program! Other SGHers who have participated in the past include Matt Richie, Phil Moser, Tyler Meek, Robert Keene, and Diego Arabbo.
The summer canoe club includes high schoolers attending the center’s “Youth in Transition” or “Real World of Work Experience” summer camps. We join instructors from the center to canoe on a stretch of the Charles River between Needham and Newton. Typically, a guide sits in the back with one or two students, who paddle and steer the canoe. Conversations with the campers range from descriptions of what is happening on the river to the day’s activities at camp or whatever is on their mind. It is inspirational to listen to students speak about where they will go to school and what they will study, or hear how their world has expanded since starting the summer program at Carroll to travel to and work at a job. We also have a lot of fun; someone always gets wet and it’s always a race to see who is first back to the dock!
The mission of the Carroll Center for the Blind is to “empower those who are blind and visually impaired to achieve independence and to lead a fulfilling life.” It is awesome to volunteer with such a group making a huge difference in people’s lives. In addition to the summer camp, the Carroll Center also offers a Blind Sailing Program that competes internationally. Dina Rosenbaum, the Carroll Center Program Director, expressed that there is always a need for experienced sighted sailing guides if anyone is interested. The program meets on Saturdays and Tuesday nights. Check out the video trailer here to learn more.