Wareham kids sail, swim, kayak and explore with the Buzzards Bay Coalition

Jul 26, 2018

Wareham kids are out and about on Onset Bay this summer enjoying a variety of expanded water programs hosted by the Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Each session includes hands-on lessons in sailing, swimming, kayaking and coastal ecology for kids ages 8 to 12.

"They've been absolutely loving it," said Outdoor Exploration Manager Rebecca Vasa.

These programs precedes the nonprofit's $5.3 million plans to rebuild the Onset Bathhouse in September, transforming the dilapidated structure into a two-story recreational hub which would house future programs as well as equipment.

The coalition will be covering the entire cost of the rebuild through grants and private donations. Once completed, the bathhouse will be known as the Onset Bay Center.

The coalition signed a 99-year lease with the town for the property back in 2017.

According to Coalition President Mark Rasmussen, the goal of the Onset summer programs is to get kids falling in love with the water.

"We want them to learn the basics," Rasmussen said. "Onset Bay is the perfect location for that."

In addition to the bathhouse, the coalition also plans to renovate Wickets Island into an ecological classroom, removing invasive plants and installing a floating dock.

To make their summer programs possible, the Coalition has also teamed up with a variety of local organizations.

The Gleason Family YMCA teaches ocean swim lessons on the beach and the Community Boating Center in New Bedford provides sailing instruction.

Kayaks are loaned from Nemasket Kayak and the kids involved in the programs come from organizations such as the Wareham Boys & Girls Club and Wareham Public Schools CARE Program.

"I really can't say enough about our partners," said Vasa. "They've been wonderful."

Vasa handles lessons in coastal ecology along with other coalition volunteers, helping kids to identify sea creatures and journal their findings.

"I think these programs deserve to be a staple in Onset," said Supervisor Michele Letourneau. "How many kids ever learn how to sail? It's an experience they won't get anywhere else."

The Onset summer programs will continue to run until Aug. 17 with construction on the bathhouse following Labor Day.