Nautical Education

The Foundation is dedicated to providing Chicago area youth the opportunities to learn and appreciate the nautical arts throughout the year Click here to view photos and videos from the Tallship Inland Seas Stem Training for Young Women.

Command of the watch

The Command of the Watch is a program for high school girls aged 14-18 which provides them with hands on experience and experiential learning activities over five days, sailing aboard a traditionally rigged tall ship schooner in Lake Michigan. It is funded through scholarships provided by the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation.The girls learn lifelong skills of teamwork, cooperation, leadership, and awareness of environmental and maritime careers. It is our goal that young women learn they have the power to make a difference in this world and that this experience allows them to realize a level of self-discovery that is often described as life changing.

Shipboard life and the demands of sailing a traditionally rigged vessel are important components of this experience. The girls will learn boating safety, navigation, and sail handling aboard the 77’ schooner Inland Seas. This program which was designed specifically for the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation has 5 goals:
1.    Connect people to place. The crew believes that connecting the girls with nature on the beach, water, and the Northern Michigan Islands is an important way to explore the Lake and develop an affection for it.
2.    Understanding how the Great Lakes work. Through hands on experiences collecting samples from the lake, examining creatures, mud and water, they will learn about the layers of the lake and how different species in them interact. They also learn about the ecology of the Great Lakes, sand dunes, coastlines and islands. They learn about the weather and the stars. When people understand the way nature works, they can better act to protect it.
3.    Encouraging the girls to practice STEM skills and explore STEM careers in freshwater. We hope the girls will fall in love with the water and become passionate about protecting it. There are lots of ways to turn that passion into a career. The crew will talk about and explore careers in field science, ROV technology, shipping, engineering, and math, all which combine STEM learning with freshwater protection.
4.    Help the girls develop teamwork and leadership skills. By creating an environment that is very supportive, with expectations that everyone will pull their own weight, the girls learn quickly that everyone must work together, and personal desires take a backseat to the needs of the group.
5.    Instilling in the girls an ethic of care for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are valuable for numerous reasons and thus we must work to protect them anyway we can. We hope the experiences on board develop this ethic of care for both the Great Lakes and their own communities.


Our youth education program has brought approximately 1,000 elementary and high school students from the city and suburban to the Chicago Yacht Club each year. 

Groups of students may be invited to the Chicago Yacht Club for a memorable maritime-related educational program and tour of the club facilities. This has been a valuable program that not only benefits student participants, but also enhances our relations with the Chicago Public Schools and provides a venue for public access.