Sea Paddle NYC 2016

sea paddle logo

About a year ago, with one eye on the TV and the other surfing the web, I found myself casually googling standup paddling (SUP) and New York City. I suppose my wandering mind was carrying half-baked thoughts of maybe doing some paddling while visiting my daughter who lives in Manhattan. Lo and behold, my browser led me to www.seapaddlenyc.org, an annual SUP event where paddlers circumnavigate 90% of the island – 25 miles – as a fund-raiser for autism, a cause especially near and dear to my heart.  I noticed that 2016 marked the 10th year of the event.

I then found myself of two minds: 1) Could I do this? 2) Could I not do this? So, in mid-July, nearly a year after that googling session, I decided to commit, paid my entry fee, and set about raising the $1000 minimum expected of all paddlers.  A month later, on the morning of August 20, I found myself standing knee-deep in the East River directly under the Brooklyn Bridge with 100+- fellow paddlers, listening to final instructions from event officials.

Sea Paddle Instructions
Following a prayer circle and the national anthem…

sea paddle prayer

… I gave my daughter Scout and Hyde parent Andrew Siben (a veteran of the event who came to see me off) a goodbye wave…

sea paddle wave

…and headed up the East River at 9:30 AM with favorable currents and a flotilla of comrades on a brand-spanking-new 12’-6” Riviera Voyager.

sea paddle start

I got into a good rhythm somewhere around the 5 mile mark as we hit the 59th Street Bridge.  (Thanks, in part, to a fellow paddler’s friendly suggestion that I unravel my leash from the skeg of my board where it had been stuck, unbeknownst to me, since the start!)  I’ll confess that I sang a few bars of the Simon and Garfunkel song as I passed underneath.  Hey, among other things, I was most certainly feelin’ groovy.

Sea Paddle 59th Street 2

We remained on the East River for something like 12 miles.  ‘Twas hot, very hot. One highlight of this stretch was Yankee Stadium. Another was the harrowing Cuisinart that is Hell’s Gate!

Sea Paddle Hell's gate 2

Then we hung a left at the Harlem River where the water slowed down and we encountered a range of captivating sights: homeless colonies of hammocks, more bridges, lush green vegetation, the Columbia University playing fields. Check out this impressive display of school spirit:

Sea Paddle C + Bridge

This short stretch then emptied us into the Hudson, leaving about ten miles to go. Mercifully, the oppressive heat on the East River gave way to torrential rains on the Hudson, causing all of us to cheer the weather gods with delight. (Talk about refreshing!)  By this point, we were spread out all over the river. It got a bit lonely as we passed under the GW bridge.

sea paddle alone

(Yep, that would be me.)

At about the 20 mile mark, shortly after crossing under the George Washington Bridge, the wind and swells kicked up, causing me to feel dubious about my prospects. (“I mean,” the evil quitter half of my conscience reasoned, “I’ve already surpassed my longest paddle ever by 5 miles…”) Seeking motivation, I gazed off into the distance.  And lo and behold, way… way down river, my eyes found an inspirational focal point that abruptly squashed any thoughts of quitting, one that has served as a beacon to countless mariners before me: Lady Liberty herself!

sea paddle liberty

With renewed resolve, I stroked it to the finish line at Chelsea Piers at about 3:15 — 5 hours and 45 minutes after the start.

Sea paddle Victory

One of the great things about this experience was indeed the camaraderie, especially heightened by my invitation to join Team South Shore Paddleboards. Spanning age 16 to 62 — Yep, that would also be me. — We supported each other along the way and each one of us finished. (Quick Tip: Team leader, Karen Marvin, founded and runs South Shore Paddleboards in Babylon, LI, NY. If you’re a New Yorker and you want to explore the world of SUP, look no further… and tell ‘em, Mal sent you.)

Sea paddle Team SoSh Pic

As far as the fund-raising went, 61 people – some friends, some parents of children with autism that I have yet to meet – contributed in my name to Sea Paddle NYC 2016. (Actually, there were 62. A guy on the subway who asked me why I was travelling underground with a paddle — a reasonable question — responded to my answer with a crisp twenty.  Gotta love New Yorkers!)  While I am proud to say that I wound up with the 3rd highest dollar total among over 100 paddlers, I am profoundly humbled by the concern and generosity expressed by these supporters who contributed a grand total of $11,100!

All told, Sea Paddle NYC 2016 raised over $300,000 for autism and the environment, smashing past the overall goal of $200,000! Granted, $300K might not cure autism, but it could add a piece to its mysterious puzzle. And that’s a good, very good, thing.

On the one hand, simple “Thanks” seems inadequate. On the other hand, it’s what my mother taught me to say and things tended to work out pretty well for me on those infrequent occasions when I listened to her advice. As I get older, I’m trying to be more consistent.

Sea Paddle MWG grin

Keep Paddling… Onward, Malcolm Gauld

BK: Now More than Ever

bk

Student resistance to Brother’s Keeper (BK) is as old as Hyde itself.  In recent years, we have been surprised by the resistance that has come from… parents.  While countless Hyde students have referred to it as a “snitch system,” it can be disconcerting to hear a parent refer to it as such.

To be sure, the concept can be a hard one for anyone to understand, much less accept.  Some see it as harsh and punitive.  (Hey, as terms go, “snitch system” isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy.)  Others, like me, perceive it as unusually forgiving.  Here are three frank reasons why we need it more today than ever.

First, “Cops and Robbers” may have worked for us Baby-Boomers when life seemed safer and simpler, but given the downright scary social problems common to today’s culture, it is imperative that students and teachers at least play on the same team. It’s not enough for both teachers and peers to look out for the best interests of young people.  We need to do it together.  (See Synergy.)

Second, this is not your father’s marijuana. It’s far more compact and powerful. Not only are edibles and dabs (If you’re not familiar with this term, Google it… please!) incredibly easy to conceal, just one hit will put anyone “one toke over the line.” I used to think, it’s a rite of passage and “kids will be kids.”  But after talking with experts at Caron and Hazelden about the latest findings relative to drugs and teenagers, I came away committed to doing whatever I can do to prevent young people from smoking weed, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. And “cops and robbers” is like going to war with a pea shooter.

Third, the boarding school world has been rocked recently by a number of media exposes concerning disturbing stories of sexual abuse by teachers and underground student-on-student sexual assaults.  Is Hyde immune from such behavior? No, but BK offers tremendous promise as an antidote.

The snitch system argument would make some sense to me if Hyde utilized the discipline measures common to most boarding schools – e.g., first strike = probation; second strike = expulsion.  However, I know of no school as forgiving as Hyde. Expulsion is extremely rare. Chances are, you’ll end up working around the grounds for a couple of days – And when did work get such a bad rap in America? – And then you’ll be back in the game with a clean slate.  (I mean, let me say out loud what I have long felt privately: What’s the big deal?!?)  Hyde may be guilty of giving too many chances, but no one could accuse us of giving too few.  And while you’re out there raking those leaves, perhaps you’ll come to realize that you could not claim that you were randomly selected as a rake recipient.

Anyway, in recent years, I have blogged often about BK. Here are three links if you’re interested.

March, 2014:      http://www.hyde.edu/blog/malcolms-blog/brothers-keeper-reprise-7-parts-2/

November, 2014: http://www.hyde.edu/blog/malcolms-blog/brothers-keeper-explained/

February, 2016: http://www.hyde.edu/blog/malcolms-blog/brothers-keeper-meets-hyde-basel/

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld

Poli Sigh

poli sigh

During election cycles, students often ask, Who do you like? Where do you stand on the issues? Given that I majored in and long taught history and government, I suppose it’s a fair question.

Around school I tend to keep my responses evasive and vague for fear of unduly influencing the teenage minds surrounding me as they explore this stuff for the first time.  Putting myself in their shoes, I recall that when I first voted – Nixon v. McGovern, 1972 – my grasp of (inter)national affairs was weak and I tended to give too much credence according to where my role models and perceived villains stood on the issues. (I also had no small degree of self-interest coloring my motivations in the form of a small country in southeast Asia by the name of Vietnam.)

With the November 2016 elections just a few months away, the presidential race currently resembles a Barnum & Bailey production, the likes of which we’ve never seen.  And as H. L. Mencken (1888-1956) famously said, “Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.”

poli sigh 2

So, here are 5 random thoughts from an Independent mired deep in the camp of the undecided.

  1. This month, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, “America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party.” What we’ve got today brings to mind the clever words of humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935): “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”
  1. We used to judge the content of one’s opinion. (See Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 1868-1956: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”) Now we judge the holder of the opinion. (See Facebook, or any contemporary prestigious college or university.)
  1. Beginning with Ike, I’ve lived under 11 presidents. If given a hall pass to hang out with any one of them for a day, I’d go with Obama. (If anyone out there can arrange some full-court 5-on-5 hoops, I stand ready to drop everything on but a moment’s notice!) I like him. At the same time, pronouncements of either his greatness or ineptitude are premature.  Contrary to many popular Facebook memes, the economy doesn’t line up in nice, neat 4-year windows corresponding directly with the actions of a given president. It’s more like the President is working the wheel of the Queen Mary in a mighty unpredictable ocean with his (so far, anyway) actions (and inactions) showing their true results in delayed reaction further down the line.  Is our apparent recovery, as some economists believe, a Wall Street mirage?  Is our military preparedness where it needs to be? I don’t know.  Neither do you. But history does and it will surely tell us.  So, let us hold the judgments for a couple of election cycles and find out.
  1. Although Laura and I are both CNN junkies, I find myself suspicious of what goes into their decisions of how much time to apportion to which stories. Maybe I suffer from goodolddaysitis, but I can’t shake this sense that Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley told me what they thought I needed to know regardless of whether I wanted to know it. One suggestion: Dial down the number of debates – I mean, how many times do we really need to see how accomplished a given candidate is at the art of argument? – Then dazzle us with a ground-breaking “outside the box” interactive format between candidates and the public.  Give us something no one has ever seen.
  1. Ever noticed how some of the same folks who back in ’04 boldly proclaimed “A.B.B.” – Anybody But Bush – get all worked up today when someone substitutes “Hillary” or “The Donald” for “Bush?” Perhaps I’m too much of a stickler for the literal meaning of “anybody,” but the “A.B. _____” pronouncement strikes me as both lazy and irresponsible.

And one more thing: I’ve always disliked the Electoral College. This year I learned that I also dislike the Super-Delegate…er, construct… or whatever it is.

In any case, something tells me that this fall will not be boring.

Onward, Malcolm Gauld

#50reasonstoreturn

I have been a bit slow and silent on this blog lately because I’ve been focused on my #50reasonstoreturn series on the Facebook Hyde 50th Anniversary/Reunion page.  If you steer your browser over there you’ll see that it’s a Closed Group.  However, as one of the designated gatekeepers, I’ll be glad to open the door should you want to enter.

If you do — and you should! — you’ll see a range of reasons why 600+ folks have already registered to return to Bath for this weekend’s celebration (6/3-5).

There are people to see…207 Claire

Things to reacquaint with…50 bell 11Food to eat…

This small collection of buildings sit quietly in the early morning fog. On a busy summer day the area can be filled with tourists and sightseers eating lobster and other seafood with one of the prettiest views in Maine.

Trees to climb…50 Unbrella 5And flowers to smell along the way…

50 rhodo 9

So, check it out.

Onward, Malcolm Gauld

The Learning Teacher

4 Points Talk Teacher

Forty years ago, I began my first teaching job at a boy’s boarding school 70 miles north of New York City. While I figured that I’d teach and coach for a couple of years before going off to law or grad school, my basic plan was to not have a plan.

Teaching is probably like life itself: It must be lived forward, but it can only be understood in reverse. You often find yourself sighing, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” I suspect I’ll be sighing as such until I’m through. Until then, I thought I’d riff a bit on some things I’ve learned.  Here are ten things that have percolated up to the surface in the spirit of grounded theory.

#1 – You can’t spend too much time on helping them write better. It’s impossible.

#2 – Writing instruction void of enforcement is basically useless.

#3 – Some teachers say, “Write as you speak.” I say, No, you should write better than you speak. You speak in real time, but you can edit your writing until you get it right.

#4 – When assessing a classful of writers, I ask them to write a page on this question: What is a bicycle and how does it work? The sample responses usually tell me what I need to know in identifying the sweet spot of capability in the class.

#5 – Each and every kid yearns to impress him- or herself in some way. If that doesn’t happen, I have not done my job.

#6 – An understanding of cause-and-effect trumps remembering chronology of events. The former leads to the latter; the latter by itself tends to leads nowhere.

#7 – If my class can command a basic grasp of the Marbury v. Madison (1803) U. S. Supreme Court Case, I know I’m working with a group that can cover a lot of ground. It doesn’t really matter to me. My love is not conditional on academic understanding, but Marbury is my go-to litmus test on assessing class learning capacity.

#8 – Public and private day school athletic coaching is about program development with stuff like youth development teams and off-season activities. Boarding school coaching is all about what you can do with what you have… right now.  Whereas the former might be likened to producing a feature film, the latter is closer to directing a summer stock play.

#9 – Due to #8, expect to play a lot of zone defense, regardless of the sport.

#10 – Hyde coaching legend Gary Kent used to say, “Baby a loser; beat on a winner.” If your team is losing, tell them you believe in them and assure them that the next win is just around the corner. If your team is winning, tell them they haven’t yet been pushed and are in for a rude awakening when that happens. (And it will.)  Yup.  Expect to see more Gary Kent wisdom in future posts.

More to come. Onward,  Malcolm Gauld