Sailing and archery lessons offer students unique opportunities to earn PE credit
This summer Dartmouth students speak about their experiences teaching and taking archery and sailing lessons for PE credit.
Dartmouth requires all of its students to complete credits in the physical education department to graduate. Starting with the class of 2026, Dartmouth students must complete three credits, while students graduating in the 2024-2025 academic year are required to complete two. During the summer term, the physical education department offers several unique-to-summer classes that fulfill this requirement, including archery and sailing lessons.
Summer sailing classes attract many students, taking place everyday Monday through Thursday on Mascoma Lake. Students in the course take a school bus to the Dartmouth Yacht Club for sailing practice. The only prerequisite for summer sailing is the ability to pass a 50-yard swim test. The class’s $250 registration fee includes Dartmouth Yacht Club membership and use of the club’s 22 boats after qualifying to be a skipper. Scholarships are also available to students receiving financial aid.
Dartmouth students are paid to lead sailing lessons. Instructors are both on the Dartmouth sailing team and non-athletes, all of whom “enjoy sailing,” according to sailing team member and summer sailing instructor Connor Vogel ’25.
“I’ve been teaching sailing for four or five years, and I wanted to continue that,” Vogel said. “I love sailing, and I want other people to learn and experience it. Teaching other Dartmouth students is really cool, and I love sharing the sailing team with other ’25s.”
The Dartmouth Archery Club, a subclub of the Dartmouth Outing Club, hosts weekly hour-and-a-half-long practices throughout the summer as another physical education credit. The practices are free and open to all students, regardless of any previous experience, according to Daniel Lubliner ’25.
“I thought it was cool because it wasn't so much that it was like a lesson,” Lubliner said. “The instructor briefly showed us how to shoot, and then we did target practice in waves, which was really exciting.”
The end goal of the summer sailing lessons is to become “skipper proficient,” according to Rebecca Risch ’25, who is not on the sailing team but is a summer sailing instructor.
“We start in bigger boats as groups, and I walk them through everything, and then students do different roles,” Risch said. “I make sure they know how to do the very basic skills. From there, we advance to smaller boats like dinghies, and that's more independent because they're in either pairs or by themselves sailing around.”
Sailing instructor and sailing team member Maddie Regulla ’25 explained that students have already “learned so much” in lessons.
“I think it's super helpful to start in big boats and have everyone learn the basics with instructors in the boats,” Regulla said. “But even last week, we went for the first time in our solo boats and people were doing so well, just learning how to navigate the wind.”
Vogel, who was a walk-on to the sailing team, recommended the sailing classes as a way to see if walking-on could be an “option” for people thinking about joining the team, which accepts walk-ons in the skipper and crew positions.
Devon Starr ’25 compared sailing lessons to language “drill” because students are “thrown into sailing.”
“We just got thrown into sailing right away and had no idea what we were doing,” Starr said. “The instructors gave us some instructions, but mostly let us figure out what to do on our own, like learning a language in drill.”
For several students, summer sailing lessons are a “social activity,” according to sailing student John D’Avanzo ’25.
“We're usually on boats of either six people or two people, so you're always on a boat with someone, whether you know them or not,” D’avanzo said. “I would say I know half of the group pretty well and half of the group not so well, so it's awesome to talk with new and old friends on the water.”
To students considering what PE classes to take, Risch said sailing lessons are an “excellent way to fulfill the credit.”
“I would tell students considering the lessons that they should definitely sign up because it's a blast, and it's really fun to be able to sail with your friends, especially when you become more independent,” Risch said. “Once you know how to sail, you can come back and bring friends to sail on your own. I think it's a really good time, and it's a good way to get your PE credit if you don't have one already.”
D’Avanzo also said he has “no regrets” about taking summer sailing lessons.
“I would highly recommend that students do sailing lessons if they like being on the water, being in the sun, being with friends, doing anything outdoors,” D’Avanzo said. “It's just a really great way to get your PE credit, to spend some quality time in the lake, get off campus for a bit and a great thing to do over the summer.”
Lubliner is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.
Correction Appended (July 17, 10:40 a.m.): A previous version of this article misquoted Lubliner. The article has been updated.