Building boats, building character Construction of ships seen as a useful tool in personal development.

August 19, 1996

WHAT BETTER place for a school of shipbuilding than Annapolis? That's why the non-profit John Gardner School of Boatbuilding, which started last year, is an excellent addition to the state capital's educational offerings. It keeps local seafaring traditions alive by educating adults and families in the nuts and bolts of turning wood into vessels.

But it teaches far more. Patience and self-confidence, for example. That's why boat building and sailing are important components in programs that an increasing number of organizations use for personal development. While the John Gardner school's students are predominantly adults who come from various backgrounds, a number of other area organizations cater specifically to young people.

Among them is the Baltimore-based Living Classrooms Foundation. For the past 10 years, it has taught inner city kids carpentry skills, culminating in boat-building projects. In its fleet of workboats, the foundation also takes students from throughout the metropolitan area, including Anne Arundel County, to the Chesapeake Bay and teaches them navigation and marine science. "These are not one-day field trips, but an integral part of education," a foundation official says.

Another organization using seafaring among its educational tools is Outward Bound, which was originally inspired by a confidence-building program used to train British merchant marines. It takes students from various backgrounds to wilderness adventures programs in Western Maryland mountains or sailing on the Chesapeake.

Broadneck High School is among Anne Arundel County schools whose students have participated in the peer leadership program that helps kids learn how to solve problems in groups, conquer emotional and physical challenges and learn by experience.

Seafaring and boat building programs teach self-sufficiency but also the importance of teamwork. They provide personal growth for people of all ages and allow them to fulfill their dreams. Says John Poston, 54, an Annapolis amateur boat builder who will teach a class at the Gardner school this fall: "What does a boat mean to some people? It symbolizes a sense of freedom and the chance to get away from it all."

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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