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Frequently Asked Questions

Make this your Child’s Best Summer!  “Operation Optimist” is the coolest summer camp in the city. Kids get outdoors into the fresh air and sunshine. They learn a new skills and develop self-confidence. Operation Optimist is run by the NY Harbor Sailing Foundation and was started in 2007. It has grown from 10 Optimists to 40 and sells out every summer! Sign up now while there are still spots.

Boats – Kids learn to sail “Optimist” dinghies.  These boats are used for teaching juniors in more than 110 countries around the world!  Kids can sail these boats all by themselves.  See the videos at the bottom of this page to see what it is like to sail an Optimist dinghy.

Ages – Operation Optimist is open to kids from 8 to 13 years of age. Kids must have reached their 8th birthday before they begin sailing.

Where We Sail – We sail the Optimist dinghies in the protected waters southwest of the Statue of Liberty. This is a shallow part of the harbor separated from the shipping channels by a reef.  Our Optimist dinghies are stored on a floating island which is anchored in this sailing area. During lunch, the kids and instructors sometimes go ashore at Liberty State Park to sit in the shade of trees.

Meet Up Locations & Time – There are two Meet Up Locations:

Jersey City – Meet at 9 am the Manhattan Sailing School clubhouse at the corner of Van Vorst & Dudley Streets. Kids can also go directly to the south end of Liberty State Park, arriving there at 10 am. Kids can be picked up at 5 pm every evening.

Manhattan – Meet at 9 am at the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal at Vesey St & the Hudson River. Kids ride across the river with instructors on the Little Lady ferry and meet the other kids at the clubhouse. Kids can be picked up at 5:12 pm at the ferry terminal every evening.

Once all kids arrive at the clubhouse, they ride out to the sailing island on Admiral’s Launch II, a 40 foot US Coast Guard certified launch.

Schedule – Operation Optimist runs Monday to Friday during the summer school vacation. There are 10 one-week sessions. Students may enroll in any number of sessions (2 weeks is suggested to allow kids to develop skills and gain confidence).

Week 1: June 29 – July 3, 2020
Week 2: July 6 – 10, 2020
Week 3: July 13 – 17, 2020
Week 4: July 20 – 24, 2020
Week 5: July 27 – 31, 2020
Week 6: Aug 3 – 7, 2020
Week 7: Aug 10 – 14, 2020
Week 8: Aug 17 – 21, 2020
Week 9: Aug 24 – 28, 2020
Week 10: Aug 31 – Sep 4, 2020

Tuition & Discounts – The tuition is $490 per week. Discounts are offered to students who enroll in multiple sessions as follows:

  • 1 week = $490 per week
  • 2 weeks = $440 per week
  • 4 weeks & more = $390 per week

Kids coming from Manhattan are also charged for their ferry tickets which is $50 per week ($5 each way, twice per day, times 5 days = $50).

Optimist Rentals – You can rent an Optimist dinghy from the Foundation for $150 per week.  Or you can provide your own Optimist and store it on our docks.  If your child plans to do a lot of sailing and join the race team, it is encouraged that you buy an Optimist as well as racing sails.  After your child ages out of Optimists, you donate the dinghy to the Foundation for a tax write-off or sell the dinghy to another family to recoup much of your investment.

Financial Aid – A limited amount of financial aid is available to families who might not otherwise be able to afford this opportunity for their children. For more information, please call 212-786-0400.

Green, White & Blue Fleets – Sailors are divided into 3 fleets – Green, White & Blue. The Green Fleet is for novices who have never sailed before. They learn safety, terminology, how and why sailboats work and basic seamanship. The focus of the Green Fleet is having fun and gaining confidence in the boat. The White and Blue Fleet are for kids who are ready to take their sailing to the next level. They will already be proficient in the Optimist and are set to learn advanced maneuvering and boat handling. The Blue Fleet emphasizes racing, rules and tactics.

Race Team – If you child is really into sailing, they can join our Race Team.  Each summer, we participate in several one-day regattas at neighboring yacht clubs.  Our Foundation arranges for the delivery of the Optimist dinghies and kids carpool with parents.  Sailing in a regatta with kids from all over is a great growing experience for your child. Read More.

Parent Fridays – On Friday afternoons, parents are invited to come out and watch their kids sail.  Parents should drive to the Liberty State Park public launching ramp on the south side of Liberty State Park.  Please arrive by 2 pm and our powerboat will pick you up and bring you out to the Optimist docks.  You can watch until 3:00 p.m. when the kids begin putting away their boats.  You can also meet the kids back at Liberty Harbor Marina on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. when we present weekly medals and trophies.

Swimming Proficiency – Life jackets are worn by all kids at all times while on the water.  In addition, the NY Harbor Sailing Foundation strongly recommends that each child have a certified swimming instructor test them for proficiency. They should be able to swim one length of an Olympic size pool (50 meters) and be able to tread water for 10 minutes.  The Foundation does not offer a swim test and relies on parents to determine if their child is proficient enough to take the course.

Inclement Weather – In case of bad weather or high winds, the instructors organize other activities designed to engage and educate the kids. These may include: visiting the Statue of Liberty & Liberty Science Center and playing or watching sailing related games & videos.

How to Register – Operation Optimists usually sells out several weeks in advance.  Please sign up early to ensure your child has a spot.  Use this registration form.

Current Enrollment