The New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro is a showplace for antique boats and New Hampshire’s boating history. The museum also runs summer boat-building workshops for kids. The two week program offers area youth the chance to build a canoe, a kayak or a skiff.
David Ives is a volunteer at the Boat Museum and has been organizing the program for six years. He and a small team of volunteers create the boat kits. "We cut out all the parts and assemble the ribs and transom. By making the kits, it's makes it much quicker to assemble the boats and the kids don't use tools that they could get hurt with."
Ben Eldridge, 13 years old, built a canoe in last year’s workshop and is a return customer this year. “It's just a great time to come and learn how to build a boat.” Eldridge and his peers turn the kits into boats under the supervision of Ives and his team of volunteers, “a guy named Herb helped me, and Dave helped, they were fantastic.”
“We’re building the boat step by step,” says Eldridge. “We built the frame the first day, then we put the ribs in, wood putty and paint.”
"Getting the boat together is only about half of the work,” says Ives. “The other half is finishing, sanding, filling holes and getting it ready." There are four coats of finish that go onto the boat after all the sanding is complete: sealer, primer and two coats of paint.
“We put the seats in on the last day, says Eldridge. “Then we named them. Mine was SS Thunderstruck.” The sense of accomplishment is clear as Eldridge talks about the Thunderstruck, “It felt really exciting, I can say I built this canoe. Every kid should get a chance to do this.”
After a boat safety lesson, the final test comes as the boats are put into the water at Lake Wentworth. Paddling and swimming ensues. Says Eldridge, “I can't wait to do this again.”