Windjammer: Finding Purpose and Meaning on a Tall Ship Adventure
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSocial Sciences. 2023, 12 (8) 10.3390/socsci12080459
The Windjammer project started in 2018 as a social entrepreneurship program in Norway for adolescents at risk of social drop-out and societal exclusion. While the effects on society of such programs are difficult to measure, aspects such as perceived meaning in life are largely overlooked in the literature. This study explored wellbeing and the processes of creating meaning among adolescents at risk during a one-month tall ship adventure. Three methodological approaches were used. First, psychological and demographic data from the Windjammer participants (n = 122) were compared to a national adolescent survey (Ungdata, n = 793,879) serving as a comparison group. Second, using sensory ethnography, the sailing experience of seven adolescents from one adventure was explored in depth through interviews while onboard the ship. Third, a mixed-methods approach was used to further explore three individual adolescents’ experiences of the adventure. Overall findings show that Windjammers experienced life as less meaningful than the general adolescent population. Interviewed Windjammers talked about transformative experiences, although quantitative data showed a slight decrease in meaning following the adventure. Overall, the tall ship adventure was found to involve four overarching themes: commitment, social wellbeing, familiarization with seamanship, and self-acceptance.