Youth Sailing Camp

About the Program

Our Youth Sailing Camp, on beautiful Conestogo Lake, is a unique summer sailing program for children ages 6 -18. Our program runs Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm throughout the summer and offers 4 convenient school bus pickup and drop off locations in the Region.

No sailing or boating experience is necessary to join the program. All participants, however, must be comfortable swimming while wearing a personal flotation device (PFD or Lifejacket).

Through a combination of games, on land activities and on water drills, program participants follow the nationally recognized CANSail curriculum.

We provide qualified coaches that are fully trained and certified by Sail Canada. All of our staff hold certification in first aid, powerboat operation, boat rescue, life saving, and coaching theory. Conestoga’s Youth Sailing Program is open to both club members and non members and is eligible for fees assistance through the Cities of Waterloo and Kitchener.

The Youth Sailing Camp is supported by the Government of Canada through the Canada Summer Jobs program.

2022 Dates, Fees, and Registration

Bus Transportation

The Youth Learn to Sail Program is run from the Conestoga Sailing Club on Conestoga Lake. The lake is 30 minutes northwest of KW. We provide a charter bus for program participants. The bus makes stops in Kitchener, Waterloo, St. Jacobs and Elmira, see below for our bus schedule.

Location Address Pick Up Time Drop Off Time
Kitchener The memorial Auditorium at 400 East Ave. (Pick up is directly off East Ave on the North side of the building in the raised parking lot.) 8:30AM 4:45PM
Waterloo Ecole L’Harmonie 158 Bridgeport Rd E (We collect in the parking lot off of Ellis Crescent N.) 8:45AM 4:30PM
St. Jacobs St. Jacobs Arena (29 Parkside Drive) 8:55AM 4:20PM
Elmira The Crossroads restaurant at the corner of Listowel Rd and Arthur St S. 9:00AM 4:15PM

CANSail Courses

The Youth Learn to Sail Program follows the nationally recognized CANSail levels. Our coaches are Sail Canada certified and courses cover the basics of sailing in a safe and fun environment.

Wet Feet
Prerequisites: Comfortable swimming with a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket

The Wet Feet program is based on breaking down sailing skills into their smaller components to make them easier to understand and build on in later CanSail levels. The curriculum includes boat and water safety, simple knots, sailing terminology, and basic sailing exercises on the water. Additional activities include swimming, beach activities and weekly theme days. By the end of the course, participants will feel confident sitting in a boat and sailing around the marina. Each individual’s progress towards the Wet Feet level will be tracked through their personalized Wet Feet checklist. For more information, check out our Wet Feet Program page.

CANSail 1
Prerequisites: Comfortable swimming with a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket

CANSail 1 is a program aimed at introducing basic sailing concepts to participants with some or no sailing experience through games and activities both on and off the water. The curriculum includes water safety, knots, rigging, terminology, points of sail, sail trim, tacking & gybing and capsizing. Additional activities include swimming, beach activities and weekly theme days. By the end of the course, participants will comfortably be able to sail around a course with a partner. Each individual’s progress towards the CANSail-1 level will be tracked through their personalized CANSail-1 checklist.

CANSail 2
Prerequisites: CANSail 1 Certificate

CANSail 2 is a program aimed at building on the basic sailing concepts introduced in CANSail 1 through games and activities on and off the water. The curriculum includes mark roundings, advanced sail trim, boat balance and body positioning, stopping and accelerating, and righting a turtle boat. Additional activities include swimming, beach activities and weekly theme days. By the end of the program participants will be able to sail independently in double sailed boats (aka double handed) under instructor supervision. Each individual’s progress towards the CANSail-2 level will be tracked through their personalized CANSail-2 checklist.

CANSail 3
Prerequisites: CANSail 2 Certificate

CANSail 3 is a program aimed at introducing advanced double handed boating skills to participants. The curriculum includes self rescue, advanced sailing terminology, rudderless sailing, and sailing backwards. Additional activities include swimming and racing activities. By the end of the program participants will master basic double-handed helming and crewing skills. Each individual’s progress towards the CANSail-3 level will be tracked through their personalized CANSail-3 checklist. Please note that sailors wishing to achieve the CANSail 3 standard will require 2 or more two week sessions.

CANSail 4
Prerequisites: CANSail 3 Certificate

CANSail 4 is a program aimed at introducing spinnaker work and trapezing in a double handed Club 420 sailboat. The curriculum includes parts of a spinnaker, trapezing technique, anchoring and flying spinnaker. Additional activities include swimming and racing activities. By the end of the program participants will be comfortable with their spinnaker skills and trapezing and will advance their double handed boat handling skills. Each individual’s progress towards the CANSail-4 level will be tracked through their personalized CANSail-4 checklist. Please note that sailors wishing to achieve the CANSail 4 standard will require 2 or more two week sessions.

Race Week / Youth Race Team
Prerequisites: CANSail 3  Certificate or equivalent

To participate in the race week, campers need to have at least CANSail 3 as a prerequisite. The focus of the camp will not be instructions towards gaining CANSail levels, but on training for racing. Race Week is designed for experienced sailors who want to challenge their sailing skills in a competitive and fun environment. Sailors will learn some of the basics of racing such as: starts, tactics, teamwork, strategy, fitness, racing preparation, communication, and sailing to win. If you are looking for an introduction to the world of sailboat racing or think you have what it takes to win the Race Week Cup, sign up for Race Week today.

Campers who wish to be considered for the Conestoga Youth Race Team need to attend this camp. The race team will participate in regular club races with adults and the club will seek out regattas with other clubs in Ontario to send representatives of our team throughout the summer.

Please email for details.


Eligibility and Safety

Our Youth Learn to Sail Program is suitable for children ages 8-18 Participants must be able to (a) swim 50 meters wearing a life jacket (b) tread water, and (c) provide their own MOT approved personal flotation device (lifejacket) of the proper size.

Things to Bring to Sailing Camp

  • A government approved personal floatation device (PFD/lifejacket) suitable to child’s weight/size
  • Sunscreen, SPF 30 minimum, for at least two applications – apply before coming in the morning and again at lunch before afternoon sailing
  • Sun hat and sunglasses with retainers
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Appropriate clothing for the forecasted weather (windproof jacket, rainwear, warm underlayers) – we sail rain or shine
  • At least one complete change of dry clothes (shirt, shorts, long pants, underwear, sweatshirt)
  • One pair of non-slip shoes that will get wet, preferably water shoes
  • One pair of shoes that will stay dry for land activities & the bus ride home
  • Note: all shoes should be closed & rubber soled. Flip flops, strappy or open shoes are a safety hazard and are NOT suitable.
  • Peanut-free lunch, snacks, and water bottle. Potable water to drink is available at the club, and there is a fridge in the club house to keep things cold. Please avoid disposable bottles if possible.
  • Label everything, and please leave non-essential electronics/toys/valuables at home. Cell phones may be left with the instructor for safekeeping in the office.

Daily Schedule

                8:30 Kitchener Memorial Auditorium bus pick-up (Kitchener)
                8:45 Ecole L’Harmonie bus pick-up (Bridgeport and Ellis)
                8:55 St. Jacobs Arena bus pick-up (29 Parkside Drive)
                9:00 Crossroads Restaurant bus pick-up (Elmira)
                9:30 – 12:00 Sailing School
              12:00 – 12:45 Lunch
                1:00 – 3:45 Sailing School
                4:15 Crossroads Restaurant bus drop-off
                4:20 St. Jacobs Arena bus drop-off
                4:30 Ecole L’Harmonie bus drop-off
                4:45 Kitchener Auditorium bus drop-off

Refund Policy

  • The Conestoga Sailing Club’s Sailing Camp requires 2 weeks’ written notice for a full refund less a $50 service charge on any course.
  • Written refund requests received less than 2 weeks before the beginning of the course require a medical certificate. Upon submission of a medical certificate a full refund less a $50 service charge will be issued.
  • Written requests for a refund after a session has begun and before the session ends will only be considered when here is a medical reason supported by a medical certificate. If the refund request is accepted, the refund shall be pro-rated based on the number of days not used less a $50 service charge.
  • Requests for refunds made after the session has ended will not be considered.
  • No refunds can be made due to poor weather or water conditions.
  • The Conestoga Sailing Club reserves the right to cancel any course that does not meet a minimum number of participants and will issue a full refund in this case.


My child can’t swim – is that a problem?
While it is not essential that your child be a good swimmer, we find that children who are scared of the water do not enjoy sailing. Your child should feel comfortable around the water but regardless of swimming ability, will be wearing a lifejacket or PFD when in the boats or on the docks.

Is there an early and late program?

We do not currently offer an early or late program.  Please note that bus stops will not be supervised, so we ask that participants arrange morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up’s in accordance with the scheduled stop times.

What is a typical day like at sailing camp?

A typical day starts with student’s rigging their boats when they arrive.  A brief land lessons proceeds the morning on water drills.  Participants get a supervised 45 minute lunch and then start the afternoon off with a camp-wide game. Another land lesson and briefing are introduced before afternoon sailing. Participants then derig the boats before cleaning up and getting ready for the bus. Throughout the day participants also play games and go swimming.

What if there is bad weather forecasted?

Our coaches constantly monitor the weather conditions and adjust lessons accordingly. If it is raining, with no severe weather, we go out sailing as per usual. Make sure your child comes prepared with appropriate clothing.
If we cannot go sailing but we can still be outside (for example if it is too windy or there is not enough wind) we continue with the on shore components (such as learning knots and other classroom instruction) of our program and play games such as capture the flag.
If the weather does not allow participants to stay outside (for example, severe weather with thunder and lightning or very strong winds), we move our instruction indoors and continue with the lesson portion of our program. We also play indoor appropriate games like Pulse. In these situations it is also possible that participants will watch an age appropriate movie.

Can I drive my child to sailing camp?

Yes. Any parent driving their child to the Club should plan to arrive at Conestoga Sailing Club between 9:00 and 9:15am and return to pick them up around 4:00pm.

Can you make sure that my child is paired up with his or her friend?

Students are grouped by ability, age and size, and instructor recommendation. Placement decisions are guided by safety considerations and the skills demonstrated by the student. As a result, we will be unable to honor requests for “friends” to be placed together.

What should I do if my child will not be at sailing camp on a given day?

If you know that your child will be absent from sailing camp please let us know. You can speak directly with an instructor at the bus stop, send us an email at, or leave us a message at 519-638-5241.

If your child is absent from class, without prior notification, the Head Instructor will try to contact you at home. It is important to understand that the program cannot be responsible for your child if he/she does not come to sailing camp; the attempt at notification is simply a courtesy to you so that you will know your child is not in attendance.

What safety measures do you have?

Our instructors are all qualified in life saving and first aid. A life jacket or PFD must be worn at all times when sailing on the water and on the club docks. We ensure that there are always an adequate number of instructors by limiting enrolment. Whenever students are on the water, there are instructors in support boats in attendance to provide assistance.

What is CANSail?

CANSail is a national curriculum designed by Sail Canada. Sail Canada’s CANSail dinghy curriculum is a progressive pathway to learn and develop fundamental dinghy sailboat handling skills.  It also sets the foundation for athlete and sailor-leadership development regardless of type of dinghy being used (single handed or double handed).

CANSail programming means lots of time on the water in a safe, fun and active learning environment, with relatively less time spent in a classroom. Sailors learn the skills and enter into fun and challenging experiences suited to their age and stage of development. The programming is designed to get – and keep – sailors excited about sailing for life! 6 CANSail levels of standard promotes teaching and progressive training of core dinghy sailing skills.

What boats will the participants be using?

The sailing camp uses the following boats:

  • Optimists
  • Toppers
  • Club 420s

Bring a Friend Day?

On Friday your child will have the opportunity to attend Conestoga Sailing Camp for a day with their friend. This day will start with an introduction to our club followed by a game of capture the flag around our club. For lunch we will be serving unlimited hotdogs and a pop. For the remainder of the day, your child will have the opportunity to go sailing with their friend. You, as parents, are also welcome to come and attend bring a friend day past 12:00 PM. Come and sail with your child!

Please send your child with the following

  • Change of cloths
  • PFD or Life Jacket
  • $10.00 per friend (bus cost or free if not on the bus)
  • $4 each for unlimited hotdogs
  • $1 each for a pop

Who do I contact if I have any questions?

Please let us know if you have any questions! The fastest way to get an answer to your question is to email us at During the summer months, when the camp is in operation, you can also call us at 519-638-5241.