Introducing Kids to Boats, Part 1 – A Sense of Command

Getting children interested in boats can be as easy as finding a safe setting and letting them explore it on their own – in a decent boat. We take you to the frog pond and talk you through a few ways of introducing kids to good boats in a setting that will build their confidence for the bigger water later on. For kids, it’s not about instruction, it’s about a sense of command.

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11 Responses So Far to “Introducing Kids to Boats, Part 1 – A Sense of Command

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    Coleen Mennucci says:

    Great video….wish I grew up like that!

  • Suzan Wallace

    Suzan Wallace says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve just finished restoring “Twinkle” for the next generation of grandkids. She is over 40 years old and has thousands of sea miles as a dinghy to my parents “Aries” Bayfield cutter. Part of my Dads legacy, he took pride in doing exactly what you shared in this video with all us kids and grandkids. Now its time for me to continue on the tradition~ _/)

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    Tom Keefe says:

    What a great adventure for a kid! Brings back fond memories of going off with my brother on a sailfish all over New London, CT harbor and just…figuring it out! Seeing the kids in this video going from some apprehension to pure joy and pride of accomplishment is heart-warming!
    Every kid should be so lucky!

  • David Tew

    David Tew says:

    I have to agree about Optimists.I had one for my second pram, as part of a sailing program fleet, and much preferred the “sense of command’ described by Wayne, rowing the first pram wherever I wished and exploring shallows, coves and beaches ‘all the live long day’.

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    James (Jim) Hart says:

    My grandson has started sailing Opti’s in Larchmont, NY. He’s an avid reader and I’d like to get him a couple of books on sailing that will continue to inspire a love of sailing and boating in general; any suggestions? . (mom’s not a boater)

    • Steve Stone

      Steve Stone says:

      Hi Jim. Check out the Mariner’s Bookshelf located in the OCH Library (link in the menu above). Lots of suggestions there. If he’s not too old, reading Swallows and Amazons at night has been inspiring for many a kid.

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    Walter Allan says:

    Steve, Eric, Maynard, & Bill,
    This is my absolute favorite video… Why do we love boats is like asking why do we love kids?
    Thanks for putting this Holiday video package together.

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    Terry Smith says:

    Another jewel of a production. Fun and informative in its own right, and brings back memories of the thrill of independence — rowing myself around in a dinghy when my age was probably still in single digits.

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    Martha White says:

    Lovely! And I loved the little after remark at the end. So beautifully done… I only wish Joel could have seen it.

There's an endless number of good courses and camps that can teach kids to sail.  Check out your local waters and ask them how they teach.  If the program teaches rowing first, and tries to create a sense of command early on, we'd recommend going with that program.  Racing can be fun for some kids, especially as they get older, but an introduction to boats and the water through the eyeglass of competition isn't exactly going to foster the deeper pleasures available to the kids.  And don't get us started on the poor qualities of the Optimist Pram.

The WoodenBoat School here in Brookin, ME offers an exceptional course entitled 'The Elements of Seamanship'.  Kids are welcome, especially during the School's Family Week.

The Nutshell Pram
The boat you see in this video is the Nutshell Pram, designed by Joel White (with input from Maynard Bray) 30-plus years ago.  Kits are available for this boat at the WoodenBoat Store.  The plans are also available there, without the kit.  We recommend the 9 1/2 foot Nutshell, rather than the 7 1/2 foot version for a variety of reasons --- more spacious and load-hauling capacity, etc.  It's a great little ship, and three of us (Maynard, Bill and Steve) own one ourselves.  After thirty years of heavy/hard use along the rugged Maine coast, Maynard's and Bill's still look brand new with a new coat of paint every two or three years.  Steve's Nutshell MAYA is the one you'll see throughout this site, and from which a bunch of the footage in the videos was taken.

Novelty Value
In this video, you hear reference to the 'Novelty Value' experienced by kids who are new to boats.  This was a concept we picked up from Wayne Roberts in New Zealand.  Wayne was keen on kids experiencing novel situations that were fresh and new to kids (and to adults), and then watching their raw pleasure upon the new discoveries.  You might also want to check out 'A Boatbuilders' Schmee' that features Wayne.


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