Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club shares expertise

Youth Camp teaches teens canoe-building skills

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Canoe building camp at the Building Bridges to Careers Makerspace in Marietta is underway with the assembly of the wooden frames taking place Tuesday. Pictured left to right: Peter Prigge, John Clark and Harrison Freimann.

With power tools, epoxy and patience, two more handmade canoes will be on the waters of the Muskingum River in just a few weeks.

The first vessels were a test run between the Marietta Rowing and Cycling Club and two local middle schoolers–putting the book “Building the six-hour canoe” by Mike O’Brien, Richard Butz, John Montague and William Bartoo, to the test.

“It definitely takes a lot more than six hours,” laughed Elijah Ditchendorf Tuesday. “But the instructions are pretty spot on; all we’ve added is layers of epoxy to make the investment last a little longer on the water.”

Ditchendorf, 20, is the Building Bridges to Careers summer intern, home in Marietta from the University of Cincinnati.

He was coaching the two newest students of the canoe building camp, a joint venture between the club and the BB2C Makerspace, through the use of the saw and other tools Tuesday.

“This is a youth camp for rising eighth-, ninth- and tenth-grade students we’re running with the rowing and cycling club,” explained Makerspace Coordinator Brad Hemmerly. “We’re limited on storage space for the materials; that’s why the class size for the camps is so small (three people per camp) but we like partnering with the club to share this expertise.”

Marietta friends Harrison Freimann, 14, and Asher Maxon, 14, are the two students of the current four-week camp.

“My mom asked me, ‘do you want to build a canoe,’ and I said yes,” smiled Harrison when asked how he heard about the opportunity–then he invited Maxon to join.

“We went to elementary school together,” said Maxon. “Thought it might be fun.”

Peter Prigge, a member of the rowing and cycling club, said he’s volunteering his time for the camps to hopefully instill a sense of confidence in the young teens.

“Familiarity with tools and the satisfaction of starting a project and finishing it,” he explained. “When your friend asks what did you do this summer and you can say I built a canoe. If that doesn’t build self-esteem, what does?”

Prigge was joined Tuesday by club member John Clark in instructing the two teens and next week will also have the expertise of Dave Vandenberg and Dave Paskawych to draw upon.

“We’re building the frame today, and this will give us the frame for the widest part of the canoe,” explained Ditchendorf. “Then tomorrow we will glue the stems to a point, and we’ll work on the bottom of the boats and bend the chines and add the gunwales.”

Ditchendorf said the final steps of fiberglassing and painting will complete the camp before the two vessels are tested on the water in July.

The next camp begins July 15 and space is limited; to sign up contact Brad Hemmerly at the BB2C Makerspace, 7410-370-6399 ext. 5.

Cost for materials is $150.