BILD Youth Wood Canoe Building Project
**B.I.L.D.** (**B**oatbuilding for **I**nterpersonal **L**earning and **D**evelopment) **Youth Wood Canoe Building Project** aims to engage youth in positive learning experiences through building and then paddling canoes in our local waterways.
Boat-building offers students the experience of working with their hands to create beautiful and highly functional craft. Along the way, they will learn valuable job skills such as measuring, applied mathematics, tool use and shop safety. More importantly, perhaps, they will also need to learn how to work as a team, communicate effectively and to have the patience to see the job through to its completion. BILD uses the challenges of boat-building as a springboard toward the personal development, real-life achievement and improved self concept that go along with taking pride in one's work.
BILD will seek partnerships with a variety of youth service and charitable agencies, who will recommend youth who are interested in such a program. The project will target all youth, which will include those who are at risk of leaving high-school prior to graduation, becoming street involved, or have been in conflict with the justice system. The project will run either at a central shop location or in the space already available to our partners.
BILD wants to create a safe space for youth to come and work, talk, make friends, find role models and get excited about making something really special. We hope that participants will return again and again to the shop as volunteers and peer mentors.
If BILD is awarded the funds requested, BILD will use them to buy tools, secure a permanent workspace, and purchase materials to build the first several canoes. Once running, the program can plan to sustain itself by selling or auctioning off the finished canoes, and by completing canoe restorations for private customers.
BILD will be a youth service agency in that uses canoe building/restoration as a means to support positive youth development, academic achievement, and the development of a variety of hard and soft skills that help young people find and keep jobs. We will work with all types of young people in schools, after school, and in other community settings. We plan to eventually establish a separate workplace.
BILD will provide youth the opportunity to develop life skills through the building and use of wooden canoes. Building small wooden craft requires communication, teamwork, perseverance, and craftsmanship. In our programs, young people will find a safe, friendly, and cooperative environment to learn these skills and to establish a connection to local waterways.
Youth will also be introduced to an on-the-water experience in a boat built with their own hands. BILD hopes to develop some programs where the youth build a canoe and then head out on a canoe trip in the very same canoe.
BILD will build relationships with community based organizations and schools working with youth. Working alongside adult mentors and volunteers from their neighborhoods, young people develop technical and problem-solving skills and more often than not increase their self-esteem, sense of responsibility, and their respect and appreciation of others.
BILD will be based in Toronto. But it is quite possible that such programs could be done elsewhere in Ontario with groups like First Nations youth or even rural youth. As already noted, such programs can build skill development, on traditions and culture, as well as add to self esteem. So BILD will provide mobile programs wherever possible.
The canoe is a great building tool to also teach about Canadian history, culture and identity. This could appeal to new Canadians or anyone in urban centres without much exposure to the outdoors.
The idea behind BILD is to include all youth, rather than exclude anyone….to be ‘inclusive’ not ‘exclusive’. BILD could even further develop to include paddle making and tripping programs (including winter months), using traditional techniques (like wood canvas canoes, etc.) that the youth would have built.
BILD has developed contacts with other canoe builders across Ontario. There is support from the Wooden Canoe Builders Guild….and many involved with the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association have offered ideas and help. BILD also plans to further cultivate ties with the Canadian Canoe Museum. One organization that has shown interest in forming an active partnership with BILD is the Canadian Canoe Foundation. The Canadian Canoe Foundation sends young Canadians on environmental education canoe-trip adventures, returning to their communities as 'Water Leaders', educating family and friends about environmental issues.
BILD will involve various construction techniques. This will include wood canvas and skin on frame construction. Restoration of donated wood canvas canoes will also be undertaken.
BILD’s hope is to get a canoe building/restoration program for youth up and running….and building or fixing more than just a cano