Boat Repairing Start of a Change Process
He created an association in Brittany which aims to exploit the formative effects of windsurfing by working with organizations concerned with the integration of young people in difficulty. It is therefore on the fringes of the classic context of yachting focused on cruises but also of nautical schools more concerned with technicality and performance. It is with an action-research objective that he creates this association which wants to bring together.
The boat is a living space on the water, unstable, isolated from known landmarks where life on board is not linked to the arbitrary but to natural constraints (the sea, the wind) which imply rules to be respected for everyone’s survival. It is also a restricted space for cohabitation where no escape is possible and where there is only one authority, that of the skipper, because he alone knows the way the boat works and the reality of the environment. Finding a place there requires negotiation with him and with the other participants in the trip. Everyone is jointly responsible for the navigation, the survival of the crew, the atmosphere on board; co-producer of a collective adventure linked to the vagaries of natural elements.
Action System Analysis
For the skipper, the boat is synonymous with travel. He proposes it in a spirit of discovery and thinks that for young people in difficulty, it can be a possibility of rupture with their daily life, an adventure which can provoke, little by little, a desire for change. Seduced by the cruise, they would also discover the risks and the constraints. For him, the boat can be a socialization tool where life on board is not reduced to a relationship of authority of the leader over the group but offers the possibility of individual relationships with the skipper and negotiation that allows young people to become players in the boat’s market and thus be valued. This marginal creator main actor, convinced and convincing leader, had the intuition of the need for action while asking the question of the meaning of experimentation. He is a sort of smuggler, mediator between different worlds in an in-between between young people and the social institution, an intermediary and a translator of the experience of young people.
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These young people live in underprivileged areas of the Lille metropolis; above all they pose problems of order and are petty criminals. They are said to be particularly marginal or even out of school, no longer attending school, whose father is often no longer there or no longer has a job, young people without authority or bearings, abandoned and without hope, who are bored and sometimes revolt against this galley. They are followed by the Judicial Protection of Youth prevention clubs or frequent the community centers. In the action system created around the boat, they took an essential place because they found themselves, a year later, in a position of responsibility in the supervision of river excursions.
The Mire research report (Research mission of the direction of research, studies, evaluation and statistics of the Ministry of employment and solidarity) draws from this experience the following assessment: “the various organizers as well as the skipper noted that on the boat, in a situation of order and constraint, the young people accept the authority of the skipper. When they were placed in a situation of extreme constraints, they could have left, run away, steal a car on the platform and flee, but they stayed until the end! The activity leaders all told us that their relationships with the young people had changed and improved when they returned to the neighborhood. The young people were in communication with other young people and with the leaders. About the young people sent by supervised education, kids who smoked, who sniffed, don’t do it anymore. They are in school when they were no longer in school.
The navigation situation offered two facets of the risk between reward and sanction in constraints linked to natural elements and cohabitation. This particular situation with its rules of survival brought together young people considered as deviant on land, labeled as such by social institutions, but not by other action systems like that of the world of the sea. In particular, when these young people then went to sail in winter in Brittany, they were no longer seen as delinquents, but as young people who had the ability to sail in winter. They gradually learned the rules by building themselves in the community, thus promoting a positive representation of themselves, the structuring of individual projects and the building of links with social, educational and professional institutions.