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Quality Improvement Initiative



The mission of Sail Champion is to bring together sailing, history and community for enriching nautical experiences. Sail Champion uses great adventure to cultivate relationships that build critical developmental assets that support youth.




About SAIL Champion


In 2008, Mr. Henry Barkhausen of Harbor Springs, MI donated the cutter Champion to Maritime Heritage Alliance. Since 2009, the 39 foot Champion has been home to the Sail Champion program. Through participation in Sail Champion, volunteers and youth will have the opportunity to learn, teach, and grow in a supportive community.  According to the National Conference of State Legislators – “Experience matters more than we ever thought during adolescence, especially experiences within relationships. The more and varied relationships a young person can maintain within family, peers, school, work, or in their community, the better positioned they will be to achieve a healthy and balanced adulthood. Experiences during adolescence can largely determine future success as adults.”  
Through participation in a five day program aboard cutter Champion, youth ages 12-18 will work alongside peers, professional crew and volunteer staff from June through August to learn how to sail in a format that teaches teamwork, self-awareness and resilience. Sail Champion’s skills/challenge format facilitates cooperation, communication and the development of trust among a group of peers.


Needs Of Young People

Sail Champion is utilizing the research avaliable through the Search Institute to inform our work with young people. The Developmental Assets® are 40 research-based, positive experiences and qualities that influence young people’s development, helping them become caring, responsible, and productive adults.   
Over time, studies of more than 5 million young people consistently show that the more assets that young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive.
The supports, opportunities, and relationships young people need across all aspects of their lives.
Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.


Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
Boundaries and Expectations
Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.


Constructive Use of Time
Young people need opportunities—outside of school—to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.
The personal skills, commitments, and values they need to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and be independent and fulfilled.


Commitment to Learning
Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
Positive Values
Young people need to develop strong guiding values or principles to help them make healthy life choices.






Program Goal


Sail Champion utilizes a skills based/challenge format to nurture caring relationships as a vehicle for building the emotional resilience of youth in the Grand Traverse region.


How can you help?


  • Volunteer to help maintain Champion
  • Volunteer on Champion with the youth (training and background check required)
  • Sponsor a group, youth, or other aspect of the program.
  • Tell other people about Sail Champion
  • Charter Champion
  • Donate to Maritime Heritage Alliance's Sail Champion program  
  • Contact us, share your ideas

Sponsor Sail Champion


Learn About 4H Programming On Champion


Learn About Girl Scouts Programming On Champion


Quality Improvement Initiative

Sail Champion

As Champion Celebrates her tenth year in service to the young people of the Grand Traverse area, Maritime Heritage Alliance has engaged in a Quatlity Improvment Initiatve (QII). Through the QII process, we have surveyed past program partners, volunteers, recieved feedback from youth and reseached best industry practices to move Sail Champion in a direction that serves the greater good of the youth of the Grand Traverse area. 

Historically, Sail Champion worked exclusively with social services partners to refer youth to our program. We’ve expanded partnerships with organizations that enroll youth in our programming to include:

  • social services partners

 serving resource-limited and trauma-affected youth 

  • community partners

 that serve all youth (Ex: Scouts, 4-H)


This expansion allows us to increase the overall number of youth benefiting from programming and supports services for youth that otherwise couldn’t afford such an opportunity.


The focus of Sail Champion is building resilience through quality developmental relationships, challenging experiences and accuriring new skills. Search Institute expresses building key assests as:


Express Care: Show me that I matter to you

• Be dependable.....Be someone I can trust.

• Listen.....Really pay attention when we are together.

• Believe in me.....Make me feel known and valued.

• Be warm.....Show me you enjoy being with me.

• Encourage......Praise me for my efforts and achievements.

Challenge Growth: Push me to keep getting better

• Expect my best.....Expect me to live up to my potential.

• Stretch.....Push me to go further.

• Hold me accountable.....Insist I take responsibility for my actions.

• Reflect on failures.....Help me learn from mistakes and setbacks.

Provide Support: Help me complete tasks and achieve goals 

• Navigate.....Guide me through hard situations and systems.

• Empower.....Build my confidence to take charge of my life.

• Advocate.....Stand up for me when I need it.

• Set boundaries.....Put limits in place that keep me on track.

Share Power: Treat me with respect and give me a say 

• Respect me.....Take me seriously and treat me fairly.

• Include me.....Involve me in decisions that affect me.

• Collaborate.....Work with me to solve problems and reach goals.

• Let me lead.....Create opportunities for me to take action and lead.

Expand Possibilities: Connect me with people and places that broaden my world 

• Inspire.....Inspire me to see possibilities for my future.

• Broaden horizons.....Expose me to new ideas, experiences, and places.

• Connect.....Introduce me to people who can help me grow.



Maritime Heritage Alliance
13268 S West Bay Shore Dr
Traverse City, MI 49684