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Youth build and launch boat on Edisto

Students paddle the boat they built off of Edisto Beach on July 13


It all came together on Friday the 13th when students involved in the Communities in Schools Program, launched their project-boat at Edisto Beach. They built the boat in Hollywood at the home of their Student Support Specialist named Christopher Kit Fox. The boat-building project is designed to help youths stay in school, while giving them experience that may be helpful in a future workplace.

David McCallum is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo, serves as Chairman of the Communities In Schools (CIS) Program, which helps to provide leadership at Title One schools. The five seventh-graders that helped to build this boat attend Baptist Hill Middle School, and mostly reside on Edisto Island. “This project led by Mr. Fox illustrated the CIS commitment to students in and out of the classroom. We make every effort to partner with community leaders during these unique experiences,” said McCallum.

In this case, it was Edisto’s non-profit group Learning Through Loggerheads (LTL) that stepped up to make sure the project was a success. LTL board members Reggie Smith, and Henry and Virginia Woodhead have donated their time, boat-building expertise and about $1200 in materials.

The Chesapeake Light Craft boat plans for the 18-foot and 6-inch Pirogue style boat, similar to a canoe, required the kids to learn building skills. Materials used include 6-milimeter marine okume plywood, some cypress and fir for the stern section and lots of caulking! The students learned how to read a tape measure, use a hammer, saw boards, paint a boat and were exposed to geometry and carpentry. The flat-bottom boat has three bench-seats and is 4.5-feet wide in the middle.

The boat-building project began at the end of May and has taken about 40-hours of actual work to get accomplished, but the finish date had to be pushed back due to some difficulties along the way. “CIS provided the money for me to transport the students and to provide snacks and drinks during project work days,” said Fox. “We began the project with five students, but finished with only four since one student entered into DSS custody.”

“I am something like a guidance counselor and a social worker wrapped up in one position, and I encourage students to stay in school,” said Fox. “A project like building a boat suits me great since I am an outdoorsman who hunts, fishes and surfs.” Fox also has worked as a trail guide for at-risk kids in other states on both the East and West Coasts.

“The experience has been wonderful for everybody, but especially for the students,” said Fox. “The boat launch at Beach Access 31 on Edisto was attended by about 60 people who were able to take a ceremonial paddle through the waves in our new boat. The kids were very proud to see the boat they built float high and dry in the ocean!”

With the boat-building project now complete, the next step in the CIS formula is to sell their new boat. Using raffle tickets to sell the boat will be the fundraising mechanism that will allow them to buy more advanced boat plans and materials, so that the next project can be even more challenging. Keeping students focused on projects that teach and projects that expose them to the outdoors will be sure to keep them afloat as they mature and navigate their path through life.



Jeff Dennis, Contributor (394 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com