Life Skills Through Boatbuilding

Summer Camp Programs

Our weekly summer camp programs involve participants in various woodworking and nautical adventures. Past programs have included boatbuilding, model building, rowing, environmental activities and construction of cigar box guitars. Under the instruction of our capable staff participants learn how to safely use woodworking tools. Each class culminates with participants rowing or sailing a boat from our fleet of wooden boats. Campers come to us through our partnerships with other youth organizations.  However, we usually have spots available for individuals who want to attend one of our weekly camps.

Schedule: Beginning June through August

Target Audience: Youth ages 12 -18
Class Size: Up to 16 students per  weekly camp

Prerequisites: None
Tuition: Free


While students are rowing or sailing, we conduct concurrent environmental science education along the shore for those waiting their turn in the boats.   Typical activities include taking water samples and testing them for various indicators of river health, catch and release of  sea life (fish, snails, crabs, oysters) and observation of bird life. Students gain an appreciation for the impact humans have on the local waterways.


After-school Program

​Our flagship youth program combines a proven STEM curriculum utilizing the nationally recognized “Building To Teach” methodology to build wooden rowboats and sailboats. During weekly  workshop sessions participants build confidence and skills as their boat comes alive. Through expert instruction and hands on experiences, math and science join wood, paint, sweat and teamwork as the boat reaches completion. The class culminates with a launching of the boat and instruction on how to row.

Schedule:   Fall Semester - October to December;    Winter/ Spring Semester - January to May

                   Classes are held Monday -Thursday, 4-6 PM. Students attend one day per week.

Target Participants:  12-18 year old Middle and High School Students

Class Size:   Up to 10 students per daily session

Prerequisites:  None
Cost:  Free

Drawing on Hampton Roads' rich maritime heritage, Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop provides area youth with unique and exciting experiential learning opportunities.  Students learn math, science and other critical life skills as they build wooden boats and are taught to row and sail them on local waters. While  participating in these activities, their world expands and learning becomes relevant and fun.  They not only learn about boats, they learn about themselves as they master new skills and discover talents and interests they didn't know they had.    

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Participants’ will construct one or two Bevin’s Skiffs , a 12 foot-long rowboat designed by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, and a pair of oars for each boat. This is the same design built in our youth programs. However, in the adult program we will go into more detail on construction techniques, including but not limited to boatbuilding woods and materials, scarfing of boards, use of adhesives and fasteners and joinery techniques. At the completion of the course participants will have the opportunity to purchase boats constructed.

Schedule: February through August; classes are held each Thursday from 7 to 9 PM.
Prerequisites:  None, prior woodworking experience helpful but is not required.

Tuition: $500 per participant.  Money collected from this program support our youth programs.


In the past year, TWBW students completed our first sailboat.  As we continue to grow our fleet of sailboats, our vision for the future is to expand our program offerings to include a vibrant sailing program.


 At the end of one of our boatbuilding programs, students experience the thrill of taking a boat that they have built out on the water.  During our rowing program, students learn proper rowing techniques and how to safely launch and land a boat, both at a dock and from/to the shore.  

About Our Programs