About Us

Our Start

Gold Star Sailing began in 2012 with the idea to build a sailing camp just for Gold Star high school age children. Capt Gary Mace with Conch Republic Divers and  Colonel (retired) Patrick Powers held their first Gold Star Sailing Camp  sponsored by the Rhode Island National Guard and Gold Star Teen Adventures.

It was that adventure that Colonel (retired) Patrick Powers, US Army Special Forces "Green Beret", founded Gold Star Sailing (GSS). The vision was to created a week-long summer camp just for Gold Star teenagers with a focus on team building, character development, leadership, and healing through a hands-on sailing adventure. At GSS campers meet other Gold Star teenagers and share adventures together. During camp, strong bonds are made, friendships forged, and healing happens naturally.

Campers are introduced to the amazing world of sailing in one of the world's premier sailing locations. Campers stay on shore and  receive instruction on the water, and enjoy land based adventures every day.  Campers participate in a variety of unique activities where they are pushed out of their comfort zone. Many campers have told us that what makes Gold Star Sailing unique, is that we let them be kids and have fun. We are not a grief camp. The campers are encouraged to try new challenges to instill self-confidence and build resiliency in order to prepare them for college and life. Campers get a chance to rappel with the Army National Guard, drive Navy Destroyers in the Navy's bridge simulator, ride aboard a USCG fast patrol boat, race and crew 40 foot sailboats with members of the Newport Yacht Club, and sail 19 foot sailboats with instructors from Coasters Harbor Yacht Club. Campers also get to tour historic Newport. 

Leadership Team

Patrick Powers US Army Colonel (retired) -GSS Director


Patrick Powers serves as the Director of Gold Star Sailing.  He founded  the Gold Star Sail Camp in 2012 and partnered with SALTY in 2013.  Colonel (Retired) Patrick Powers served over 25 years in Special  Operations. COL (ret) Powers most recently served as a USSOCOM Liaison  Officer in Washington, DC. He served tours in Korea, Bosnia, Germany,  Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was introduced to sailing as a child and was  hooked. He began racing in 2001. In 2012 he designed Gold Star Sailing  to be a special program uniquely designed for Gold Star teenagers with a  focus on leadership,  teamwork, and adventure.  He discovered that  great healing happened through this Gold Star Sailing adventure. Patrick  is a career “Green Beret,” Master SCUBA Diver, close quarters combat  expert, and the recipient of four Bronze Star Medals. Additionally, he  is the father of two sailing children.

Wes Marshall


Wes Marshall has been an avid sailor for thirty years. He has over 8,000  miles of ocean and blue water racing and cruising experience. He has  raced large and small boats in the eastern US for many years with a  focus on one-design keelboats. Wes has youth counseling experience with  after school enrichment programs, the Boy Scouts of America, coaching  lacrosse, the All-American Soap Box Derby, and the Gold Star Teen  Sailing Adventure. He holds numerous outdoor certifications including  Wilderness First Aid. Professionally, Wes worked as a trial lawyer until  2012 when he was appointed to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation  Commission.

USCG Licensed Captain, Gary Mace


Capt. Gary is a Master Scuba Instructor, a 100-ton Master Captain  certified with the US Coast Guard, a sailor and a private pilot. Gary  has been instrumental with helping our wounded troops recover from  injuries starting in 2007 with the first SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking  Disabled Scuba) a program for service members wounded, ill, and injured  with permanent physical disability requiring adaptation. He went on to  help start an organization that helped kids of fallen special operations  troops named Gold Star Teen Adventures in 2008 where he served on the  board (2008-2016). This program helps kids learn leadership skills, team  building skills, character and in turn promoting healing. In 2012 he and Colonel Powers held the first Gold Star Sailing Camp along with  Rhode Island National Guard thru Gold Star Teen Adventures. Capt. Gary  remains active as a scuba instructor, a mentor, and councilor with Gold  Star Teen Adventures and Gold Star Sailing Camp. Gary spent 25 years in  high-tech as a software support manager and electrical engineer. He  along with his wife for the past 14 years own and operate the dive shop  Conch Republic Divers in the Florida Keys where they live.

Richard F. Keene, Brigadier General, USA, Retired


BG Ret. Keene was and continues to be an instrumental and key Gold Star  Sailing ke leader. BG Ret. Keene most recently served as the Assistant to the  Vice Commander, United States Special Operations Command, before  retiring in January 2014. Responsible for representing the command to  the Joint Staff, Service Staffs, Office of the Secretary of Defense and  other governmental agencies in the National Capitol Region. BG (ret),  Keene enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1971 and was commissioned in the Army  National Guard commissioned in 1985. He commanded units at every grade  level and deployed several times from 2004 – 2014 for Special Operations  missions in the Horn of Africa, U.S. Special Operations Command,  Special Operations Command South and Colombia. He actively supports  several charities including Give to the World, The Gold Star  Sailing and the North Smithfield High School Class of 1971  Scholarship Fund.

Capt. David W. Pickering – Founder / CEO S.A.L.T.Y. & Gold Star Sailing - Sponsor


Dave, serves as CEO of S.A.L.T.Y. (Seamanship And Leadership Training  for Youths), a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization  and since  2014, as a co-sponsor, helped grow the sea based adventure to Gold Star Sailing to include living onboard ships and sailing on the sea providing an amazing healing and fun environment for campers as  they learn about the sea and discover themselves. Dave brings 35 plus  years of business development experience as he built Preventure, Inc.  one of the leading wellness companies in the U.S. His 40 plus years  working as leader in youth organizations including YMCA, Boy Scouts of  America and Sea Scouts inspired him to form SALTY. He’s a licensed USCG  Captain, former Commodore of West Bay Yacht Club, Committee Chairman of  Sea Scout Ship 1909, Sea Scout Commodore for BSA Narragansett Council  and a board member of Steamship Historical Society of America. He  received his Eagle Scout in 1972 and has been managing sailing charter  groups for more than 20 years to destinations throughout the Caribbean,  South America and the South Pacific Society Islands of French Polynesia.

Colonel (Retired) Lonnie Barham


Lonnie is the Operations Director for the Gold Star Sailing. Colonel (Retired) Lonnie Barham served in our country’s  military for 42 years. He served as a young enlisted man in the U.S.  Navy aboard a nuclear submarine during the Vietnam War, as a junior  officer in the National Guard during peacetime, and as a senior officer  on active duty with the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War and the  Global War on Terrorism. His significant assignments include Company and  Battalion command, Division Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Commander –  Fort Dix, NJ, and as the Army’s Chief of Emergency Services where he was  responsible for oversight of all police, fire, emergency medical, and  antiterrorism operations on all U.S. Army installations in the U.S. and  around the world. Throughout his military career, Colonel Barham taught,  mentored and led young soldiers in their late teens, not unlike the  teens who participate in the Gold Star Sailing. Colonel  Barham is married with two children and three grandchildren.

Colonel Patricia Ryan, USA, Retired


Patty serves as a member of the senior GSS leadership team as well as  the onboard chef for the Gold Star Sailing. She has over  29 years of service in the United States military, and is a certified  chef and elementary school teacher. While serving in the Army, Patty had  the opportunity to work with students in Honduras, Guatemala, and was  also a Girl Scout Leader for many years. She entered the military as a  Private and retired as a Colonel in 2012. Following retirement, she  attended culinary school, taught fourth grade, and became a volunteer in  the American Red Cross. Upon graduation from the Chapman School of  Seamanship Professional Mariner Training, in June 2017, Patty is  pursuing her USCG Captain’s License.

Jill Rasmussen, CPCU


Jill is a Marketing Officer for Internet and Mobile communications at  Amica Mutual Insurance Company.‬ She is valued member of the GSS  leadership team. She is an accomplished, results-driven insurance  technology leader with demonstrated success in the design and delivery  of systems for use by internal staff, and external facing web and mobile  applications for customers. She has expertise in driving organizational  change and technology innovation along with her track record of  implementations that improve performance, decrease operational expenses  and promote corporate growth. She has a proven ability to lead and  motivate teams, with a focus on maximizing productivity.

Norman P. Bailey Sr., Past Commodore Newport Yacht Club


Norm is a retired US Army Green beret who began his 30-year military  career serving in Vietnam with the US Marines. Norm is a Wounded Warrior  (twice) himself. Norm is a Past Commodore of the Newport Yacht Club in  Rhode Island, a key sponsor of the Gold Star Sailing on  multiple levels. He is a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club of  England and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Norm has race several times in  the Bermuda One/Two. He is on the organizing committee for both the  single and double handed transatlantic sailboat race (Ostar and Two  Star). When Norm isn’t sailing he is a volunteer varsity football coach  with a local high school here in RI. He is also a retired Civil  Engineer.

Victoria Clark – Gold Star Teen Former Counselor


Victoria is a full-time Psychology Major at the University of West  Florida who aspires to become a therapist for children. As an avid  sailor and curious wanderer of the world, she is always up for an  adventure where she can meet new people, push her limits, and learn more  about the universe we are all a part of.

Whether it be rain or shine, she always finds herself outside writing  in a beat up journal she jokingly calls her “Life Documentation Book”.  After experiencing the death of her father, Victoria turned to reading  and writing as a form of comfort and in many ways has realized that she  has a passion for reading and no desire to ever stop the words that flow  from her heart, to her mind, to her fingertips, and onto paper for  other eyes to read.

Victoria participated in the first sailing camp in the beautiful  state of Rhode Island three years ago and now, in the summer of 2017,  she will return as a Junior Counselor. It was an incredible experience  for her to be a part of this camp that allowed her to push herself out  of her comfort zone, discover the beauty of the little moments, create  lifelong friendships, and become a leader, a friend, and a soul sister.  The experiences, challenges, and memories this sailing camp has given  Victoria will stay with her indefinitely.

Morgan Lomax – Gold Star Teen Former Counselor


Morgan Lomax is from a little, small town in Nebraska. In her free  time she likes to spend time with her friends, work with her dogs, and  loves to travel.

She’s been a Gold Star teen for 4 years now having lost her Dad when  she was just a sophomore.  She started attending GSS in her junior year of high school and say’s “I’ve loved every  minute. It is the most important event I look forward to every summer.  Because of this Sailing Adventure, I’ve gotten to do once in a life time  things and makes friends that will last a lifetime.”

When asked about her first experience at the helm of a sailing vessel  she said “I was scared and nervous at first, but it was an awesome  experience!” “And she drove like a pro,” said Capt. Dave Pickering, “we  couldn’t keep her off the wheel!” She was outstanding as a Counselor In  Training (CIT) in 2016 season, returning in 2017 as a Junior Counselor.