Promoting Northwest Maritime Heritage

The Center for Wooden Boats’ mission is to promote northwest maritime heritage through education, interpretation and hands-on experience in building, maintaining, and using historic small water craft. 

The William Wockner Foundation’s donation in the year 2020 supported two boatbuilding programs––woodworking camps for young children, which includes classes such as Woodworking for Kids, Youth Woodworking 101, Design & Build, Half Hull Building, and Quick & Daring. Our funds also helped support a Summer Boatbuilding Internship for teens in the Seattle Public School System.

Our grant paid for nearly 8 weeks of an instructor’s time to lead the Center for Wooden Boats’ 2020 Summer Woodworking Camps. The objective of these woodworking camps is to introduce younger children to woodworking tools and building methods. Our funding provided instruction for 81 youth between the ages of 8 – 15 years, nearly 30% of whom were from underrepresented communities.

In the all-time favorite, “Quick & Daring” camp, teams of kids design and build their own boats over the course of a week, then take them for a test run in our lagoon, competing against other team build projects in the class. The kids have a blast, and in the process, learn what designs have the most balance, are the most watertight, move the fastest, and how to adapt to unique conditions on the water. These types of learning experiences embrace CWB’s “hands-on learning” focus and show children the joy of working with wood, acting as a team, building maritime skills, and develop confidence on the water. The instructor, Henry, once a camper at CWB, is now a 2nd class cadet at Massachusetts Maritime Academy pursuing a career in maritime. We are excited to support young mariners like Henry in their career paths while providing role models for youth considering what direction their own futures might take.

CWB’s 2020 Summer Boatbuilding Internship was a partnership with Youth Maritime Collaborative that strives to introduce young people to maritime careers with the goal of increasing ethnic and generational diversity in the maritime industry. Working through the Seattle Public Schools’ Launch 206 pilot program, three teens from underserved communities were afforded the opportunity to take part in a three week, Monday-Friday paid internship to learn woodworking and boatbuilding skills from professional boatwright and marine biologist Casey Wilkinson. 

The students thrived in this immersive internship model in which they helped build two Lake Union Swift sailboats for our youth fleet. Enthusiasm for boatbuilding and the career skills they gained in pursuit of it is precisely what CWB hopes to foster in young people from a broad range of backgrounds. Our grant was key to funding the instruction, as well as  enabling CWB to purchase extra sets of tools. For many of these teens, the Summer Boatbuilding Internship at CWB was their first opportunity to safely engage with in-person learning outside of their homes since the pandemic began. The morale boost this change in scenery and social engagement provided was palpable. We are so grateful for the existence of boatbuilding programs like these, that gives local youth a chance to explore woodworking in a maritime context, hone their carpentry skills, and gain a broader view of careers available to them in the maritime industry.

Images courtesy of Center for Wooden Boats