Building Boats, Building Character

Twelve kids and a few volunteers worked for 2 days to build their own Bailey's Island rowing skiff. Photo/David Foynes

Who would have thought that a dozen inner-city kids, many of whom have never seen the ocean or been in a boat, would be able to build their very own Bailey’s Island rowing skiff in 3 days? Yet that’s just what happens each summer at the Crossroads for Kids skiff-building program, held at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Crossroads for Kids combines school-year programs and immersive summer camp experiences to provide at-risk youth with a supportive community and access to experiences and resources that help them discover self-confidence, graduate from high school, seek higher education and become members of the next generation of diverse young leaders. Youth enter the Crossroads for Kids 10-year program with their first summer of summer camp and then transition into year-round programming via the Camper Continuity Initiative.

The skiff-building program was developed by David Foynes, a longtime boater and owner of the Fatty Knees boat company. The goal is to get city kids involved in a basic boatbuilding project that will hopefully expand their horizons and introduce them to the water and boating.

Photo/David Foynes

“The latest project began on a Wednesday with just the strongback set up,” Foynes related. “The 12 kids and a few volunteers worked for 2 days, and by Friday they had their very own skiff—built with their own hands! Some of these kids did not even know how to use a drill or saw, and by the end of the project they were disappointed that it was over.

“There’s still some work to do, of course, such as glassing the bottom and painting her. Since Crossroads is a year-round program, we are going to do this work over the winter at their camp in Duxbury. The finished boat will go to Camp Mitton in Brewster, since that’s the camp attended by the Crossroads students.”

Foynes wishes to thank WoodenBoat Magazine and the Cape Cod Maritime Museum for making the project a reality. He also mentioned that he is looking for a company or individual who could donate the fiberglass and paint to complete the skiff.

To learn more:

Crossroads for Kids

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