Bravo Team: Becoming a Team

Kelsey BrennerAll, Bravo Team, Youth Programs

By Sean Bunting, Bravo Team Instructor

It’s that time of year again. Driving rains reinvigorate dry ground, bitter winds gust through the land, wood stoves across the state are reawakened—and two captains, a mate, and nine brave teenagers start going out in the fine longboat, Townshend, bow-first into those first two things. Bravo Team is a program run by the Northwest Maritime Center in partnership with Port Townsend School district’s OCEAN program to give middle and high school students a space for long-term challenge and growth. Students work together to voyage on Port Townsend Bay, maintain the longboat, learn about marine trades and the natural history of the Salish Sea, and culminate the year in a week-long journey in the San Juan islands.

It takes a while for a collection of people to cease to exist as a loose assortment of different talents and skill levels and for that collection to turn into a true group, a team. I think that we’re finally getting to that point with this year’s Bravo Team.

The first several weeks were very quiet and hesitant, as each person was unsure what the next months will hold and what kind of people they are going to be spending hours upon hours rowing a boat with. Last week the ice finally started to begin to break. Some of the quieter students have started poking their heads out and showing that they know how things work and what needs to be done. 

As the mate on the boat this year, I was in the same spot. Why are these kids here? What do they want to learn? How far can they go? I wasn’t sure where I would fit into the crew as one of the leaders. Would they appreciate my sense of humor, my teaching style? Teachers have to go through that same period of shyness; that same probationary period of overanalyzing your behavior and being stiff instead of just getting into it.

This year’s crew has finally started that process of getting into it, and I think that we’re going to have a great year! Stay tuned to the Northwest Maritime Center’s blog to follow along with Bravo Team’s upcoming adventures and activities.