Local kids build boats, tool skills and teamwork at Boys and Girls Club camp | News

Local kids are spending two weeks building a row boat from scratch at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha’s boat building summer camp.

Volunteers and Boys and Girls Club staff help campers sand the boat to prepare it for the next steps. The boat built by the campers will be the…

The two-week camp has been taking place at the Boys and Girls Club Monday through Friday, starting on June 13. The camp ends Friday. A boat launching ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, July 2, at around 9:30 am at the Kenosha Sailing Center.

This year’s boat building camp is the second held by the Boys and Girls Club has held Director of Outreach and Schools Lloyd Lewin said the idea came about last year when Lewin said the Club wanted to give its members something different to try.

“When you think of the Boys and Girls Club, you think of basketball, football, soccer,” Lewin said. “In a boat, (we are) giving kids an opportunity to do something outside of sports, something that’s a little bit different and that they probably don’t get an opportunity to do anywhere else.”

Campers Jameslie and Ric’Khylee both said the boat building camp is a new experience for them. “I’ve built things but I’ve never built a boat before,” Jameslie said.

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Volunteers from the Chicago Maritime Art Center and All Hands Boatworks worked with campers to help build the boat. Patrick McBriarty, a volunteer with the Chicago Maritime Art Center, said boat building camp helps kids develop teamwork skills and tool skills that they can carry with them throughout their lives.

“Not everybody learns by books,” McBriarty said. “So learning by doing, and this project-based learning, is a really cool way for kids that are college-bound or not, to get to know how to fix things.”

In the club’s back parking lot, campers built their boat from scratch using planks of wood. They were provided step-by-step instructions on how to put it together. Along with building the boat, the campers chose a color for it, painted it and named it, McBriarty said.

At the boat launch on July 2, campers will switch off testing the boat — including undocking, rowing and re-docking — on the water at the Kenosha Sailing Center.

“The gratification of building something and then actually using it is huge,” McBriarty said.

The camp was officially open to Boys and Girls Club members up to age 17, but campers this year were a little younger than those from last year. The average age was 10. Last year the camp was marketed more toward teenagers, but this year the club decided to give younger kids the chance to try it out, especially as teens get summer jobs, Lewin said.

“Oftentimes, when you take kids out of their comfort range or you give them something different, or expose them to different opportunities, you just see their interest level peak,” Lewin said.

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