Youth Programs

Learn about our Summer, Spring or Fall Programs

Columbia Sailing School is a highly regarded, diverse and optimally located program hosted on the docks of our Club ship right off Randolph Street on Lake Michigan. Our youth programs provide the full spectrum of education and child care from introductory sailing and summer camp to advanced racing teams. Our youth alumni develop lifelong skills and friendships skills that lead to opportunities in high school, college and international competition as well a life on the water. Our coaches are trained to keep children safe and having fun. Our instructors are qualified and highly experienced US Sailing certified instructors. Our programs cover introductions to sailing and racing.


Summer Camps

Our dynamic 10 week program offers lessons to sailors of all ages and ability levels from 9am-3:30pm, Monday-Friday July 6-August 21, 2020. Students can sign up for as little as one week or as many as 10 weeks of the program. We recommend taking consecutive weeks if your sailor's summer schedule allows. 

Our offerings include our brand new Siebel Sailing CampYouth Keelboat Sailing CampColumbia Adventure Kids Camp, Shark Week and Shark Bait, Prams Camp, Beginner/Intermediate C420 Sailing, and Advanced C420 Sailing. Racing Programs are also available. For those parents unable to pick up promptly at 3:30pm we also offer Aftercare from 4-6pm daily.

2020 Summer Camp Pricing:


1 Week - $555

2 Weeks - $775

3 Weeks - $995

4 Weeks - $1,215

5 Weeks - $1,435

6 Weeks - $1,595

7 Weeks - $1,755

8 Weeks - $1,915

9 Weeks - $2,075

10 Weeks - $2,075

Shark Bait: $175

Shark Week: $340 Half Day; $680 Full Day

Lab Week: $400

2020 Session Dates:

Camp is being delayed until July 6th, space will be very limited. See below for class availability.


Week 4 – July 6-10

Week 5 – July 13-17

Week 6 – July 20-24

Week 7 – July 27-July 31

Week 8 – August 3-7

Week 9 – August 10-14

Week 10 – August 17-21

Shark Week – August 24-28

Lab Week - August 31-Sept.4

Current class availability 8/4/20:

Shark Week: Registration is OPEN!


Youth Powerboat Certification: SOLD OUT


Youth Keelboat Camp: SOLD OUT


Prams Camp: SOLD OUT

Beginner/Int. C420: SOLD OUT

Adventure Sailing Camp: SOLD OUT

Adventure Kids Camp: SOLD OUT 

Advanced C420: SOLD OUT

Shark Bait, Session 2: SOLD OUT


Shark Bait and Shark Week

Sailors age 5-7 years old

Designed for students new to sailing, this program is run under very close instructor supervision; students sail in the protected harbor and close to our dock, making it easy for parents to observe their child’s first time at the helm. The class emphasizes safety and fun, as well as developing confidence in and around the water. Sailors will learn boat parts identification, rigging and basic sail theory. Classes are taught in Prams and Bugs, which are designed specifically for small sailors.

Shark Bait is held on Monday evenings throughout the summer and Shark Week is a week at the end of the summer with morning and afternoon programs available. Come join the fun!

*No Class on July 4th

Shark Bait:

2020 Price - $175

Monday evenings, 5:30-7:30pm

Session 1 - CANCELLED

Session 2 - July 20-August 10

Shark Week: August 24-28

2020 Pricing - $340 Half Day; $680 Full Day

AM Session: 9am-12pm

PM Session: 1pm-4pm

Full Day: 9am-4pm (Lunch Break from 12-1pm)

Prams Camp

Sailors age 7-10 years old

Our Prams Camp offers an opportunity for younger children to get a start in the fundamentals of sailing. Students learn safety, basic sailing terminology, boat nomenclature and sailing knots. The class is filled with on-the-water instruction where student sailors are coached in how to correctly helm a boat, trim sails and perform capsize recoveries. Classroom instruction includes an introduction to sailing theory concepts. Children under the age of seven will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Students can sail any amount from one through the full ten weeks, you can also mix and match weeks throughout. Consecutive weeks are preferred for instruction. 

Adventure Sailing Camp

Sailors 10-13 Years Old

Our Adventure Sailing Camp is a brand-new program offering this year. We have 6 new RS Feva XL’s that will be used for the class, and they’re specifically designed for middle-school-aged sailors. These boats are considered skiffs and have a lot of “get up and go” with a light roto-molded construction, as well as an asymmetrical spinnaker. Students will learn terminology, boat parts and rigging, knots, introduction to asymmetrical spinnakers and safety. On-the-water instruction includes tacking and gybing, steering, boat balance, launching, docking and capsize recovery. If you’re looking for a fun class to join this summer, this is the one for you!

Beginner/Intermediate C420

Sailors age 12-18 years old

Beginner/Intermediate 420 is a class geared toward middle and high school students, who want to learn to sail or continue their training in the premiere junior racing/training boat in the U.S. Students learn basic sailing terminology, boat parts and rigging, basic sailing knots and safety. On-the-water instruction focuses on tactical skills: tacking and gybing, steering to sail trim, as well as launching and docking boats and capsize recovery. Students split their time between classroom and on-the-water practice. 

Students can sail any amount from one through the full ten weeks, you can also mix and match weeks throughout, however we recommend consecutive weeks for instruction retention.

Our most popular weeks sell out by May. Please register by then to guarantee your spot in your desired week!

Advanced C420 Class

Sailors age 13-18 years old

The Advanced Class is designed for students who have mastered basic sailing skills and are interested in pursuing the sport at the next level. Students will learn advanced boat handling techniques in the 420 and how to use the trapeze and spinnaker. Basic racing rules and racing drills are introduced on and off the water, while sailing theory and concepts are covered in classroom sessions.


Course requires 420 Beginning/Intermediate class or equivalent instruction or experience. 

Summer Camp Keelboat Program
Sailors age 9+

The Keelboat camp is geared toward students age 9 and up who want to learn to sail or continue their training in our Colgate 26 sailboats. Students will learn basic sailing terminology, boat parts and rigging, basic knots and safety. On-the-water instruction focuses on tacking and gybing, steering to sail trim, as well as launching and docking boats and working with other students to sail the boat. Students split their time between classroom and on-the-water practice. This camp is limited to 10 students per class. There will be a 5:1 student to instructor ratio. Consecutive weeks are recommended for lesson retention. 


Our most popular weeks sell out by May. Please register by then to guarantee your spot in your desired week!

Columbia Adventure Kids Camp 
Sponsored by Manitowoc Marina

Students age 10-15 years old

Columbia Adventure Kids Camp is a week long program at Columbia Sailing School that will include kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and STEAM education principles with an environmental focus. This class is targeted to 10-15 year olds and is a great way to get on the water and play this summer!

Our most popular weeks sell out by May. Please register by then to guarantee your spot in your desired week!

Lab Week

Sailors 7-18 years old 

Sailors participating in Lab Week are not split into formal groups like they are in the summer camp, this is a last chance to get out and enjoy the water before school starts! We highly recommend that sailors with no prior experience planning on participating in our 2020 Fall Program register for this class to develop a basic foundation prior to the beginning

of the school year.

Lab Week is August 31-September 4 from 9am-3:30pm. 


Aftercare is offered everyday that our 10-week main summer camp is in session from 3:30pm-6pm. Any pick-ups after 6pm will incur an additional fee.

This is meant for working parents with younger sailors who need a little extra time to make it over for pick up.  

If you know your schedule, you can pay by the week in advance. If you wish to purchase aftercare for just a day, or if you are just running late one day it is a $20 charge at pick up any time after 4pm.

In aftercare sailors will play games, swim, watch a movie, etc. anything to mix it up after a day on the water!

2020 Meal Plan Information

Due to Covid-19, all sailors will be required to bring a lunch for summer 2020. Please be considerate of those campers with severe food allergies when choosing lunch options - thank you!


Update on Covid-19 pandemic:

The health and safety of our sailors is always our top priority. We are closely monitoring CDC, government, and local regulations while following best practices.  It is currently our intention to hold camp starting on July 6th and continuing through August 21st.

We have implemented the following in response to current advice (although we expect to see additional guidelines over the coming next 10 weeks leading up to camp and we will respond accordingly as advised).


  1. Program Changes: 

    1. Program capacity has been reduced by 50%.

    2. We will not be offering the buffet style lunch this year; students will be asked to bring lunches from home.

    3. Lunches will be staggered more and shorter than normal to minimize the number of sailors inside at one time.


  1. Health and Hygiene Focus:

    1. We will be conducting our own screening each day at check-in, and will not accept sailors who we feel are unwell or who have any symptoms of Covid-19.

    2. We will be monitoring personal hygiene and stepping up request of sailors to continually practice good hygiene and be aware of personal space.

    3. Rotations among sailors will be limited and consistent pairings will be maintained as much as possible.

    4. Our cleaning schedule for our equipment and the ship has been increased.


  1. Refund Policy Changes:

    1. Should the program, or weeks you have selected to enroll in, need to be cancelled then we will provide a refund of the camp fees.

    2. Any family who enrolls and then suffers a personal hardship may seek a full refund of camp fees up to 2 weeks prior to the start of the session they enrolled for.

    3. For all other refund requests such as if you change your mind or plans, will follow our standard refund policy.

    4. All refunds issued will be at the applicable rate less credit card fees paid on enrollment.


We encourage you to enroll now because last year we did have to turn campers away due to being full (and with reduced capacity we expect that we will sell out of many weeks earlier than normal).

We will continue to monitor and adjust to the situation, and keep you informed of any changes.  Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Q: I'm not sure what course is right for my child. How should I choose?
A: We have classes for all age groups and level of experience.  Please refer to the chart below to choose the best program.

Q: What should my child bring to summer sailing lessons?
A: Your child should come prepared for a day on the water.  Pack a life vest, sack lunch, water bottle, sunscreen, towel, hat, sunglasses, shoes that can get wet, and a change of clothes. Please mark everything with your name in permanent marker. COLSS is not responsible for lost items.


​Q: Does my child need a life vest?
A: Each student is required to have his/her own life vest. Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's) should be USCG approved and properly fitted at the store. USCG Type III PFD's are recommended for sailing school. Prices usually start around $25/vest. COLSS does have a few extras on hand for those who occasionally forget.


​Q: Where can I drop off/pick up my child from Columbia Sailing School?
A: Students over the age of 13 may leave after class if they have a parent permission slip on file. Students 12 years of age and under must be picked up inside the ship. Parents may temporarily use the Columbia Yacht Club parking lot for pick-up and drop-off. Parents leaving their vehicles unattended in the traffic circle run a high risk of receiving a traffic citation.


​Q: Will there be a swim check?
A: Instructors will perform a swim check of each student in their class. Swimming speed and proficiency are not being tested, instructors are looking at the students’ comfort in the water.


​Q: What happens when the weather is too bad to sail?
A: We monitor the weather very closely. We only take the children on the water if conditions are safe for their boats and level of experience.  If the weather doesn’t allow, we combine classroom instruction and fun off-the-water activities to complete the day.

Q: Do we have class on July 4th?
A: We do not have class on July 4th when it falls on a week day.  It is a short week and we do not allow make-ups, or price-breaks as it is one of our most popular weeks with out-of-town family members joining us. 


​Q: What if we need to cancel?
A: All refunds will be less the credit card processing fee. Students who cancel three weeks prior to the program start date receive a full refund (less processing fee). Within two weeks out of the start date, the student receives a 50% refund (less processing fee). Inside of two weeks there will be no refund.

Please feel free to reach out to with any questions or concerns, thank you! We look forward to getting you onto the water in 2020!


We'd love to hear from you


  • White Facebook Icon

Find us on Facebook

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon