The Center for Wooden Boats Programs
CWB's Youth Programs use the marine environment and classic wooden boats to engage students in the Pacific Northwest culture, history and environment. We provide hands-on opportunities for students from pre-school through high school. Field trip programs are aligned with state learning standards. Out of school time Youth Development programs are shaped by CWB's participation in the Youth Program Quality Initiative. CWB partners with Youth Service Agencies, other cultural institutions like MOHAI and Pacific Science Center, maritime non-profits, and a variety of schools. CWB prioritizes creating access for underserved youth. Within the context of CWB's supportive environment young people have a chance to grow as a person, learn skills, and set goals for the future. From the boat shop or the deck of a boat, young people are challenged to solve physical problems, learn to communicate effectively, and learn to take responsibility for themselves and for others. Many staff and volunteers find themselves supporting these programs peripherally because it’s so energizing to see young people grow and flourish.
Sunday Public Sail
The Sunday Sail is a free weekly opportunity to step aboard one of CWB's historic wooden boats to sail and tour the unique landscape of a historic and central urban waterway, Lake Union. This inter-generational program creates free access to the water every Sunday year round. Over 8,000 people participated in free boat rides during 2014.
Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival
CWB holds the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival at Lake Union Park over the 4th of July weekend. Over 100 historic boats, educational maritime exhibits, music, food, and hands-on activities for all ages. One of CWB's farthest reaching programs, the Wooden Boat Festival serves an audience of over 12,000 individuals in one weekend. CWB partners with SeaFair to serve the larger crowds on 4th of July.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Challenge/Opportunity: CWB has grown along with the South Lake Union neighborhood and now serves over 100,000 museum visitors each year, and about 8,500 direct program participants. The challenge is for CWB to build the capacity needed to capitalize on this opportunity to make these visitors into engaged members of the CWB community, and to be able to keep pace with the added repairs that comes from welcoming this quantity of people to CWB’s aging docks. Additional visitor services staff, marketing, signage, and volunteer management resources, not to mention boat and facility maintenance, are needed in order to grow our operations to serve this increasing community base.
Challenge/Opportunity: CWB is at a crossroads where on a daily basis we must make difficult tradeoffs. Do we use our one indoor multi-purpose space for a field trip, a meeting or an exhibit for visitors? In the evening, do we offer a Captain’s Class, a lecture, a volunteer work party to repair sails or hold a board meeting? In the current boat shop the tradeoff is between repairing a boat that’s needed back in service, running a boatbuilding workshop or creating a space for the Job Skills Training program.
From the new Education Center, we will host field trips, boatbuilding classes, boat maintenance projects, lectures, community meetings, a range of exhibits, and welcome park visitors. The new spaces include a Restoration Boat Shop with a safe viewing area for the public to watch traditional craftspeople in action maintaining the boats in CWB’s rental fleet; a Youth Classroom and Sail Loft that is close to the water, kid-friendly, and easy to access; a free Library with a wealth of resources on boats and the region’s maritime heritage and environment, and administrative space for staff and volunteers. One challenge is that CWB is completing its capital campaign at the same time as fundraising for annual operations costs as well as youth and educational programs. The exciting piece is that construction of CWB’s new Education Center will enable CWB to serve more young people in its programs, and the public profile of the organization will increase with the visibility the new building will bring.