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by Ken Simpson - Fountain Hills, Arizona - USA

Several months ago I received an email from Edwin Cowin of Idaho, asking if I had plans of a boat that could be built by young boys, with adult supervision, to earn their Boy Scout Woodworking Merit Badge.  My response was a question; How difficult (or easy) should the project be, and what would the completed boats be used for?  As it turned out, the boys aged 10 and 11, would be assisted all along the way in construction, learning the use of various wood cutting and finishing tools, and assembly processes, namely glue and screw construction.  They also would use the boats after completion learning boat safety and proper paddling methods.  Knowing this, I sent a couple of plans that I thought would satisfy their requirements.

A few months passed and I received some initial construction photos of the boys hard at work on their projects. Now I knew who they were.  The older boy is Ben Cowin, the son of Edwin, and the younger boy (by a year) is Noah Dannenberg.  It's always good to place a face with a name, and the following photo does just that.  The boy on the left is Ben, and Noah is on the right.

Here they have nearly completed construction of one boat.

The boat they chose to build was the TOTER 2, because of it's ability to store and transport easily, and one that would be stable enough for them to venture out onto the water alone.

The next pictures show them hard at work on the sanding and finishing of the plywood, prior to painting.  There is no doubt that at this point they have learned a great deal, as a look at the details indicate, the adult supervision received has been well taken and implemented.

Hard at work on smoothing the hull, taking turns with the power sander.

Once all the hard work of construction was done, it was time to apply a finish. The boys chose a deep blue color for their boats, and so the real finishing began.  The next couple of photos show the initial paint being applied.  Learning to get paint into all the cracks and crevices was evident.

Noah rolling the outside surfaces, and Ben brushing the inside corners.

As you can plainly see, it took a team effort to get the project well on it's way to completion. This too was all part of the learning process, and the late nights and week end work days were also part of the learning cycle.  Nothing great is achieved without hard work.

Months of work finally paid off, and launching day arrived. Dressed in their Boy Scout uniforms, it was time to get the boats in the water, and the next picture shows the delight on the face of the boys as they row out onto the lake for their maiden voyage.

That's Ben on the left, and Noah on the right.

Of course, the final achievement was the presentation of the Merit Badges, for a job well done.

As both boys receive individual merit badges, it is interesting to note the other Troop Members looking on in pride, as they all share in these very special moments.

A great deal of involvement by the Troop Leaders provided the direction and example for these future builders of America.  Congratulations to all.


As a postscript to the story, it bears mentioning that both Ben and Noah sent me a personal handwritten note, thanking me for the plans. Included was a laser engraved, personalized  hunting knife, which was totally unexpected, but very much appreciated.  It is good to know that there are young people who still take pride in something that they created with their own two hands.  I wish them many seasons of safe and happy boating.  I would also like to thank Edwin Cowin, Ben's dad and Troop Leader, for the photos and accompanying information, and for the ongoing guidance and support given the boys during this long term project.

Ken's plans are available through Duckworks.

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