Dories Summer Sailing Camp + JR. Basic Keelboat

2021 Dories Program enrollment is open! 

Dories weekly camp programs begin June 21 and run through Aug 27. Sign-ups are located at the bottom of this page.


Our goal is to help give children an appreciation of our marine environment and teach them a range of skills such as teamwork, independent boat handling, navigation and rowing.

Classes will be confirmed via an email from Sound Sailing Center.

Dories Camp – Ages 6-13 – Covid 19 Update

Cost $440 traditional program

We offer a 10% discount for multiple children or multiple weeks.($400 per week, per child – e.g. 2 kids for 3 weeks would be $1,200 per child.)

Sound Sailing Center: Dories Junior Sailing Camp Summer 2021 Safety Precautions

We are happy to announce that our annual Junior Dories summer camp will be taking place this summer. Our camp’s one week sessions run from June 21st to August 27th. Due to COVID-19, we will be changing certain aspects of the program, based on guidelines placed by the CDC and State of Connecticut.

Note that the latest research shows that the Covid 19 particles are rendered inactive by summer UV light in as little as 30 seconds. Combined with being out in the breeze and the ability to keep kids a reasonable distance (about 6’) from each other gives us confidence that we can again operate safely this summer.

A. If local infection rates are over 10/100,000 and/or the positivity rates are over 2%, we will return to limiting the number of kids per boat to 4 unless the 5 person group is put together by the parents. Otherwise, we will go back to a max in 5 kids per boat.

B. Groups will stay together for the week (we normally have 4 boats running). Mixing of groups (we often changed up the groups during the course of the week in the past) will no longer occur.

C. Each group will normally have the same instructor for the week, who will always wear a mask. Occasionally an instructor has an issue that prevents them from finishing a week but substitutions will be as limited as possible.

D. Drops and pickups will not be at the office but down at the boats. Our boats are next to Sunset Grill on R dock. There are marina bathrooms across from the ships store or you can use the head at Sound Sailing Center if needed (bathrooms on boats and at SSC are called heads!). Of course it is preferable to use your home bathroom before you come down. We will have someone available to check kids in at 8:45 and will stay down at the docks to 12:15.

E. We have a digital thermometer and a pulse oximeter and will test everyone on arrival. Kids will first clean their hands w hand sanitizer that SSC will provide upon arrival at the head of the dock. We will also have hand sanitizer on the boats and will resanitize hands at least every hour.

F. After the health check at the ramp, please apply sunscreen if not done already, then walk your child down to their assigned boat. They will be given a position / job by the check in person

G. We can not provide loaner life jackets. Please make sure your child has a comfortable life jacket along with the usual water shoes, comfortable clothing and a fabric mask. Masks must be worn while when on the ramp and dock, when moving about and according to the rules below.

F. Our 23’ long Ensigns, for the purposes of the Dories program, will be split into 4 zones. There is the Bow section, Forward cockpit, Mid Cockpit, Helm and Aft cockpit. Note that we never are sailing upwind or downwind. Thus, by keeping about 6 feet of separation between the crew, the risk of a kid catching something from another kid is greatly reduced as the breeze almost instantly moves any viral particles to leeward away from the boat. Even in a light 3 knot breeze, after one second what we breathe out is 4 feet away.

Bow Man (that’s what’s it’s called even though, on racing boats, it’s often a women because they are lighter!) – serves as our lookout. If they want to dangle feet in the water their legs must be on either side of the forward shroud. The Bow Man will remove the sailcover in the Morning and the returning bowman will put it back on.

Forward Cockpit – this position handles the halyards, navigates and watches the depth, calling it out every 20-39 seconds or more often if shallow.

Mid Cockpit – this position handles the Jib Sheets. They also handle the spring line and fender.

Helmsman – this boy or girl is steering the boat and does the navigation using the charts. We will wipe down the tiller when we rotate positions

Aft Deck – this kid runs the electric motor when needed, and trims the mainsheet while sailing. The aft deck person uncoils the mainsheet at the start and recoils it at the end.

When we rotate the kids move forward – the mainsheet trimmer / aft deck becomes the helmsman, helmsman moves to the jib, jib trimmer becomes the navigator, navigator moves to the bow, and bow man moves aft to the mainsheet position. Kids must pull up the mask when rotating positions. At other times, IF all parents on the boat allow it, when the kids are more than 6’ apart and on station, we will allow the masks to be pulled down.

In this manner, the kids will generally stay 3’ apart from each other during the day (which matches the latest CDC guidelines for in school seperation). The instructor will of course move around but will generally stay in the front of the cockpit. The instructor will always wear a mask.

On most days other than Friday, we anchor in less than 3’ of water close to an Island from about 10:15 to 11am, and the crew will generally swim or wade to the island beach. We use this time to Swim between the boat and the beach, explore the island, identify marine life, catch crabs, and talk about how the islands are formed (the larger Norwalk Islands are Glacial deposits). We have a dingy available for non-swimmers and we often beach the Ensign so we can step off the bow if not good weather for swimming.

G. Friday as always will be Pirate Day, rain or shine! Costumes / makeup / eye patches are encouraged! If you have a water gun, please bring it, otherwise we will provide water guns. Each boat gets a bucket of fresh water for reloads. The boats sail out to a starting point, then navigate a proscribed course while engaging in a water fight! Normal racing rules apply and boats can ‘loose’ for not following the rules (basically starboard tack boats and leeward boats have right of way). Targets with buckets underneath on the mainsail is one way we measure how they did (the boat with the least water load is one of the winners), along with the fastest boat, best pirate spirit and best costumes.

H. Speaking of weather, we generally go out unless steady winds are over 20 knots or gusts are over 24 knots (the Ensign’s have very deep reefs in the mainsail, allowing us to reduce to sail area so that in effect, 20 knots of wind has the same effect on the boat as about 12 knots). We also not not go out severe thunderstorm warnings are posted or likely for the morning (typically severe thunderstorms are far more common in the afternoon), a strong cold front is forecast to move through the area between 9 and noon or heavy rain looks likely. We will cancel the activities that day by 7:30 am via email. We can accommodate a limited number of campers under a covered 50’ by 20’ patio behind our office, for parents who have to work. We will practice knots, pratice throwing ropes, use our microscopes to look at water samples, and play games. Otherwise we can offer a makeup session the following week, typically in the afternoon from 1-4pm.

One of the lessons we are going to teach kids this summer is to have fun while maintaining a healthy separation. Understanding wind direction and how viral particles will move downwind is also on the agenda.

We realize there some parents uncomfortable with group lessons. We will also offer a limited number of private or semi-private lessons, generally in the afternoon. Note that if you sign up for private lessons, you can put together your own group of family members or family members or close friends whom you already hang out with. Private lessons cost:

  • $175 an hour for the instructor and boat
  • $350 for 2 two hour lessons.
  • $600 for 5 one hour lessons.
  • $1,000 for 5 two hour lessons.
  • $1,400 for 5 3 hour lessons.

An additional option is to become a SSC member. The weekday Daysailer membership costs $1,771 and allows unlimited use for one year. Members pay $75 an hour for lessons so one week of 3 hour long lessons cost $1,125. We strongly recommend this for students doing our Junior Basic Keelboat program, so your kid can sail you around after the class is over (must be over 16 years old or have a CT Safe Boaters Certificate).

After every lesson, we spray down and rinse off the boats used with an EPA approved cleaner / disinfectant which includes bleach.

We will also not be going indoors this year at camp, and will make sure our instructors enforce distancing between campers. To do this more effectively we will have no more than four kids per boat. The groups will not mix over the week and they will have the same instructor all week. Each instructor will also have hand sanitizer and have all of the kids use it in the morning when they get there, and during lunch break. Lastly, face masks will be required at camp this summer.

We require your child to stay home if they are showing any signs of Any Illness or has come into contact with anyone who is infected (or if they are running a temperature over 100 degrees or have a Oxygen level under 95%). We will reschedule classes for no charge if you or we have any doubts or concerns about the health of your child.

At the end of the class students will understand basic navigation and sail themselves to Sheffield Island. We will have a contest to see who can identify the most marine species. This course is taught in the mornings from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, with 15 hours of instruction over 5 days.

Some of the things we cover:
• Biology of estuaries (we use nets to sample marine life)
• Island geology (demonstration of how a glacier works)
• Operating an outboard-powered boat (with a USCG captain on board)
• Parts of the boat
• Wind direction
• Rules of the road
• Basic sailing skills
• Man overboard drills

We are currently accepting enrollment for 2021. If you have questions, please email us

Sign-up for Dories Summer Sailing Camp

If you are enrolling one child for one week the cost is $440. (To purchase an additional week or weeks, or to enroll an additional child, please use the option below.)

If you are enrolling more than one child or signing-up for more than one week, please use the $400 choice below.

Junior Basic Keelboat Program – Ages 14-17


Cost $820 (without certification) $900 (with certification)

This 2-week program is designed for kids 14-17 who know the basics of sailing and wish to be able to Captain an Ensign. Taught in the afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm This program includes all the skills taught in our Basic Keelboat Adult program. With 24 hours of onboard instruction after the first 8 days students will be able to: reef, do MOB drills, perform single-handed tacks and jibes, anchor, read a chart, understand navigation and rules of the road, and much more. 

The final two days (Thursday and Friday of the second week) are both devoted to practice sessions. The kids will sail the boats themselves, accompanied by USCG Captain and or instructor. If conditions cooperate they may even practice a MOB drill by rescuing one of their instructors. Students 14 and 15 cannot receive the US Sailing Basic Keelboat certification but will receive the same level and quality of instruction. Kids 16 and 17 may receive their Certification if they chose to. 

Students getting certified will undergo a two-hour checkout test sail on their final day as well as receive a one-year membership to US Sailing. Before the practice sessions, all students must have read the textbook and passed the US Sailing Basic Keelboat written test. The test will likely be given the Wednesday of the second week, so we ask parents to be aware that additional time may be required after class on that day. We recommend that students acquire their Connecticut safe boating certification prior to the start of the course.  

Junior basic Keelboat without certification Ages 14-17 Cost $820

Family Sale — 5% off each additional child per family
Use code jensign1 at checkout  (please call 203-838-1110 to receive discount for three or more children)

Junior basic Keelboat with certification Ages 16-17 Cost $900

Family Sale — 5% off each additional child per family
Use code jbk1 at checkout  (please call 203-838-1110 to receive discount for three or more children)


Click to read what to expect, bring… Dories Checklist

Download Registration Form here  (Please bring registration form to class filled out on the first day)
Please click here before signing up  Payments, Cancellation and Refund Policy

All students should be able to swim (although there is no swimming in our program) and must own and wear a comfortable, high quality Type 3 lifejacket, preferably made by Extrasport.

Safety is all important. Our facility at Norwalk Cove Marina is in a safe, family-orientated area. Our boats are all unsinkable, with keels to prevent capsizing. Most of our instructors are US Sailing Certified.

Note: The Dories Camp runs Monday thru Friday from 9:00 am -12:00 pm. Ages 6-13 years old.

The Junior Basic Keelboat Program is taught in the afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Ages 14-17.