From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Brendan Sailing Camp Concentrates On Youth with Learning Differences

By Marc Apter

Brendan Sailing Camp Concentrates On Youth with Learning Differences

Annapolis – July 2nd – 13th

St. Mary’s County – July 18th – 27th

Are you looking for a fun summer camp for your child with learning differences? Operating in its 34th year in Annapolis and St. Mary’s County, non-profit Brendan Sailing Camp teaches students from 11 to 18 with a wide range of learning differences (dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADP, ADHD etc.) how to sail in a non-competitive environment, and uses sailing as a foundation for building life skills, self-confidence, and social ability. Brendan Sailing is currently enrolling at both camp locations, Annapolis Sailing School and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Brendan Sailing is the first summer camp to follow the National On-Water Standards from US Sailing certified instructors, providing up-to-date and professional sailing instruction tailored to youth with learning differences. Over 600 students have attended these camps and on the final day of both sessions, parents are invited to take a sail with their camper to show off the skills they have acquired.

Founder and CEO Jim Muldoon has seen the tremendous growth that occurs within Brendan campers firsthand. Muldoon was inspired to start Brendan in 1985 after his son, who is dyslexic, became a confident sailor. “One day I noticed that this young boy, who was having trouble telling his right hand from his left hand, knew port from starboard and that he was telling my crew, these big burly sailors, how to run the boat. And they were listening to him” Muldoon said. “That’s what this program does, it builds a foundation for self-confidence, allowing the kids to be more confident and sure of themselves, and not just in sailing but in other pursuits as well.”

An Annapolis area parent, Frank Fallon, said “Brenden is a program where my son fit in right away, gained a sense of accomplishment in learning to sail, made new friends and looks forward to every summer.  As a parent of a child with learning differences, this is not something that is easily found.”

Parents start noticing immediate differences in their child’s behavior after a summer session. Lisa Whelan, a parent from the St. Mary’s overnight camp said, “My son gained a sense of confidence that extended to his day-to-day life. Before Brendan he was shy, but the boy we picked up from camp was more engaging, happy, and relaxed. I attribute this not just to learning how to sail, but also to the instructors he worked with and the new friends he made.”

Most of the camps instructors and staff have had personal experience with youth with learning differences making them particularly sensitive to the issues encountered. Former camper and current instructor, Evan McCarthy has seen what Brendan can do first-hand. “Brendan taught me a perspective on teamwork and gave me a life that has shown me new opportunities. This program helped shape me into the person I am today, and the skills I learned still play a huge role inside and outside of what I do with Brendan.”

Annapolis sessions are from July 2nd to July 13th. St. Mary’s sessions have both daytime and overnight sessions from July 18th to July 27th. Visit the camp’s website at or call 202-638-2788 for more information on the program, session dates, times, and tuition costs. Registration is still open. Tuition assistance for the $650 camp is available through Brendan’s scholarship program. No child is ever turned down for an inability to pay.

Marc Apter is a writer who lives in Annapolis with a love of all things sailing.  He sails his boat on the Chesapeake and has chartered sailboats in the Caribbean, Maine, Turkey and Greece. He is an experienced communicator with award-winning public relations and marketing experience. He heads a PR and Marketing firm, Image Power Inc. whose clients include; Gary Jobson- sailing filmmaker, Castleton (VA) Music Festival and the National Philharmonic at Strathmore in Bethesda.

He is a past president of the Anne Arundel Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and has won a number of regional and national awards for his work. Apter is a member of the board of directors of the Brendan Sailing Camps and DC Sail. He can be reached at

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