Organizations We Support: Youth Summer Boatbuilding School

For over 40 years, Jamestown Distributors has been helping people love their boats more. Whether it’s about helping the handy DIY owner tackle a tough project – or if it’s helping the novice build their first boat, we have a soft spot for helping out those who share our passion for boats, and for building, and making just about anything. Recently we have been supporting boat building schools and programs that are trying to take it to the next level – in whatever way that may be. And we have found many programs doing just that, with the RIMTA Summer Youth Boat Building Program emerging as a leader as they build boats with youth to try to involve and integrate them into the marine trades.

RIMTA’s (RI Marine Trades Association) Youth Summer Boatbuilding Program is a 6-week internship for youth between ages 14-16 who want to learn more about the marine trades and hopefully cultivate the desire to pursue a career in the marine industry.

The six-week program incorporates work experiences, career exploration, leadership development, adult mentoring, basic skills development and job readiness services. Participants gain basic, academic and employment skills, earn their diploma and gain paid work experience and receive a certificate of completion from RIMTA. There were a few of these boatbuilding programs scattered around the state of RI, but we have been supporting our friends at the Herreshoff Marine Museum and Dan Shea’s local boat shop, where 12 lucky high school students came together to build a Herreshoff Dory.

The Herreshoff Marine Museum and The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) were thrilled to again host this groundbreaking pre-employment, experiential learning boatbuilding program for high school students in the museum’s boat shop on Burnside St. The class was once again led by master boat builder and TotalBoat Ambassador, Dan Shea, who coordinated the successful construction of an 18′ Herreshoff Dory with the students over the six weeks.

The Dory was designed in 1917 by A. Sidney DeWolf for use on HMCo #323, a 112′ Navy Steam Patrol Boat. The class was funded through Real Jobs RI, during the six weeks the students developed skills in reading construction plans, lofting, joinery, planking as well as hand and power tool skills. In addition, students met with members of the marine trade community to hear first hand what it is like to work in the industry and the skills employers are looking for in 21st-century employees.

The boat building continues this fall. The museum will be hosting students from our local high school in two different boat building programs during the afternoon in the boat shop, providing opportunities for up to 20 students to learn first hand about the exciting world of composites and traditional boat building, as well as learn about the opportunities in the industry here in Little Rhody!

RIMTA views this effort as building a pipeline of workers: creating Career Exposure in summer programs, youth camps, internships, company tours, and High School programs; offering Entry-Level and New-Worker Training in apprenticeships and our Pre-Apprenticeship Program; and providing Incumbent Worker Training by gaining access to funds to train employees, creating networking opportunities, and offering professional development and certification training.

For these past 2 summers, JD has been proud to support this industry initiative by supplying the program with a credit to purchase the supplies needed to get the boat built.  We helped them build a Westport Skiff in the shop last summer (seen hanging from the ceiling in the top photo), and again they came to us for material support for the dory.

We will continue to support organizations and individuals like boat builder Dan Shea, Herreshoff Marine Museum and the RIMTA Youth Summer Boat Building Program. If you have a similar program in your area that could use materials and support, let us know in the comments below. Getting kids into building boats is to ensure that future generations can continue to know and appreciate important boat designs, but even better is that it is helping to build tomorrow’s marine workforce, a very worthwhile and crucial endeavor.

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