By Jenny Manning, Lewes Historical Society
The Lewes Historical Society annually hosts a Family Boat Building Weekend over Father’s Day weekend. With the guidance of The Lewes Historical Society’s Wooden Boat Volunteer Crew, eight preregistered families and groups gather at the Lewes Life-Saving Station to build wooden boats called Bevin’s Skiffs. At the end of the weekend, the groups launch their handmade boats into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. This is an educational program with the purpose of exciting families and groups as they embrace a wonderful team-building activity, while learning, and participating in, the rich history and tradition of boat building in Lewes.
Although the 2014 Family Boat Building Weekend took place June 13-15, members of The Lewes Historical Society’s Wooden Boat Volunteer Crew have branched into the school system, in attempts to keep the program running year-round.
Recently, Milford High School’s Agriculture Structures teacher Chris Stahl connected with The Lewes Historical Society, asking for the opportunity to bring the program into his classroom. “I heard about The Lewes Historical Society’s Boat Building Program in a news release for the Family Boat Building Weekend in Lewes,” said Stahl. “I was immediately interested in the program for my students to be able to learn the skill [of boat building] in an advanced Agriculture Structures class.”
Members of The Lewes Historical Society’s Wooden Boat Volunteer Crew, Bob Kotowski, Peter Issel, and Loren Bystol, went to Milford High School May 21-23 with a Bevin’s Skiff kit. Over the three-day period, they taught Stahl how to build the boat, with an eye toward having him translate the process into the classroom setting. They also showed Stahl how to create a template for his class. Bob Kotowski noted, “It was wonderful to help develop a curriculum of sorts for students, along with the template to continue the program over time.”
During the remainder of the school year and now into summer, Stahl is going to have his students do some final trimming, sanding and painting. Next year, he will take what he learned and teach his students to build a new boat from templates and plans, as a full curriculum project. “I plan to use the boat as a teaching tool in my classroom and share the experience and boat as a teaching tool with other teachers as they see fit to apply it to their classroom activities, for example math, science classes, etc,” said Stahl. “I think the build was a great experience and look forward to a long-lasting relationship with The Lewes Historical Society.”
Bob Kotowski concluded, “I think this was a great step in connecting education with community on behalf of The Lewes Historical Society’s Wooden Boat Program. I really hope we can expand on this in the future.”
The Lewes Historical Society is excited to expand its Boat Building Program into other schools or into other group settings. Any interested teachers or group leaders should contact the Society at 302-645-7670. For more information on the program or for general information about The Lewes Historical Society, individuals are encouraged to visit www.HistoricLewes.org.