Featured Program - Sailing


The City of Eugene Sailing Program: Why it Makes A Difference

In addition to the well-documented benefits of recreation, the City of Eugene Sailing Program serves a unique niche in our community. The River House Outdoor Program Sailing School is the only public or private sailing program available to all area residents.

The Sailing Program has a tremendously broad base that contributes to the vitality of our community. Founded in the early 1980’s, we serve a cross section of area residents. Our programs include: Senior Sails, Family Sails, youth sailing camps, youth day camp outings, boater safety education, internationally recognized certifications, adult classes, private lessons, and services through agreements with youth service organizations. We can teach children to sail starting as young as eight years old.

The program serves vulnerable populations through our youth day camp sails (Amazon, Sheldon, Willamalane, Camp Lutherwood), senior sails, services for youth agencies such as Centro LatinoAmericano, Big Bother Big Sister, Committed Partners for Youth, Lane County Youth Services and sailing for people with disabilities and Veterans in partnership with Lane County Parks the City of Eugene Adaptive Recreation program.

"I called to tell you that I used the Behavioral Contract at home with great success, thank you."

Learning to take responsibility for one’s own actions quickly becomes evident when you are thirteen and on a boat with just one other student. Each year I am called in to help problem-solve how to set up a student for success when they only what to disregard what the rest of the students are doing. Our strategy always starts with involving the parent/guardians as partners to figure this out. Last year a youth with challenging behaviors ultimately benefited from signing a behavioral contract that they, their parent and staff helped to create. After a very difficult start to the summer the outcome was successful and the youth became a leader amongst peers and the parent used the behavioral contract at home to help manage challenging situations. I hope they return this year. This is just one of the positive impacts sailing with our skilled staff leads to.

Critical Water Safety Skills and Boating Certifications

All of our programs have embedded in them a water safety and boating safety emphasis. In addition the adult program offers students the opportunity to achieve the American Sailing Association Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Charter certifications. These certifications are accepted worldwide. The youth program includes the Oregon Boater Education curriculum and the US Sailing Small Boat curriculum in each class.


Sailing in our region is readily accessible and affordable compared to coastal communities with huge urban centers, much like how all of our excellent programs are accessible. In our region you can purchase a decent sailboat for an affordable price and embark on life-long learning.

Staff Qualifications

The sailing staff members are committed professionals and have paid out of pocket to further their education and certification. They hold certifications as Basic Keelboat Instructors, Basic Coastal Cruising Instructors, Bareboat Charter Instructors, Oregon State Marine Board Boater Education cards and US Coast Guard Captain’s licenses. Each staff member truly cares about each and every person on their boat.

First Mate Job Skills Training and Volunteer Program

Our First Mate program is used to train youth as mentors, provide job skill training and help satisfy high school volunteer hour requirements. Each year we have hired youth from this program for the upcoming season. This program is also used to train qualified adult volunteers to assist in our family and day camp Sailing Program.

Cash Donations

We have a continuing need for sponsorship specifically for youth scholarships to help serve underrepresented youth and for equipment purchases and upkeep.

The top three items on our wish list this year are:

  • Scholarships in any amount
  • Youth and Adult life jacket replacements
  • ASA trainer sailboat

There are many wish list items and ways to give to the sailing program. Please contact Robert for more information.