Newspaper article

These Kids Build Boats -- along with Teamwork, Perseverance and Confidence

Newspaper article

These Kids Build Boats -- along with Teamwork, Perseverance and Confidence

Article excerpt

The most important thing Urban Boatbuilders build is confidence, says Executive Director Marc Hosmer. For the 16- to 19-year-olds in the apprenticeship program, "being able to take a pile of sticks and turn it into a beautiful boat that they can launch into the water is such an amazing confidence booster," he says.

Now in its 19th year, Urban Boatbuilders works with schools, community organizations and juvenile corrections facilities to help young people learn craftsmanship, as well as other "21st century skills" like teamwork, perseverance and communication -- skills they'll need to be successful in life regardless of the vocational path they take.

UB offers two types of experiences for teens in the St. Paul area -- school partnerships and an apprentice program.

School partnerships bring the materials, tools and instructors to the school. During the course of 70 instruction hours, the students build a boat from start to finish.

The (paid) apprentice program is made up of young people from a variety of backgrounds. Often, these kids have had difficulties while growing up, many coming from Boys Totem Town or maybe a treatment program, but anyone is welcome to apply. The boat launch I attended recently at Lake Como Pavillion in St. Paul (see video of the launch below) also included students who had previously been in a school partnership project and one who receives special education services for autism. They all seemed to work well together, making for a diverse, spirited team.

Urban Boatbuilders sells the boats they build, and all the profits go back into the organization. Their website lists boats for sale and prices. They'll also gladly custom-build one for you -- and if you'd like, you can sign on as a volunteer on your own boat construction.

Their signature boat is a 17-foot, 40-pound, ballistic nylon skin- on-frame canoe. …

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