By John Hendren
I have loved woodworking for as long as I can remember. One of my best memories from elementary school was industrial arts / wood shop and it was something that I was top of the class in! I have made a career of woodworking for 40 years, and it has given me a great deal of satisfaction and self worth. In the last 15 years I have been restoring antique boats as a part time business. I retired from my job of 31 years and knew that one of the things I wanted to do was to show young people the joy of creating something with your own hands. What better way than build a canoe! Luckily I know Ted and Joan of Bear Mountain Boats, so I asked Ted if I could attend one of his week long classes. They said yes. Well I got exactly what I was looking for, tapping into Ted's years of experience and how he related things in life to building a boat. Ted is a natural teacher and gifted at woodworking. The things that I didn't expect from the course was to see how 5 strangers with varied woodworking abilities and experiences would start to develop a team effort. During the course there are two boats being built, so that creates some friendly competition in speed and quality of the work. I have had the opportunity since to go back and help on the next course, and have since worked with Ted on other canoe projects. I have gained some great knowledge and I decided to take an idea to the local school board - my plan to show young people boat building skills. I met with the principal of my old high school and told him my plan. He was excited but there were some obstacles that we needed to work through. With some persistence on both parts we started a one day a week course, and it is going great! We just finished day 7. There are 11 students; we are doing two canoes, a 17' Freedom and a 15' Ranger. We just completed the Fiberglas layup on day seven. I am proud of the students! I can see the same sense of pride and competition in these kids that I saw during Ted's course. They may never be carpenters or boat builders, but for sure they will have a better appreciation for a wood canoe or boat. That is something to be proud of!