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“Heber, why don’t you get something going in the summer for kids that have nothing to do but ride around and get in trouble? My 3 kids stay home all day, every day, and just watch TV all day.”
~ Parent from Marshallburg, NC

Heber Guthrie grew up in a Harkers Island boat building family. Heber learned the trade, and has been building boats since he was a teenager. Over the course of four decades Guthrie has built 97 boats.

When he isn’t building a boat, Heber is the go-to person for innovative projects in Down East communities. For Boy Scouts, he once choreographed a re-enactment of delivering the news to Harkers Island from the mainland that the colonies had declared independence.

Guthrie has been volunteering in the seventh grade technology classes at Down East Middle School in Smyrna. He and the technology instructor, Richard Coffey, have guided students to employ design and modeling skills in real world applications. Heber says, “This kind of work teaches children the characteristics of wood and how to shape it for functional designs. Utilizing rack-of-the-eye methods, students learn that 10% of the work is by eye, but 90% is measuring and figuring to transform vision into reality.”

Responding to the parent’s plea for a summer program to transform idle hands into productivity, he has developed a syllabus for a series of week-long summer camps. Campers will undertake rack-of-the-eye boat building techniques, sharpening mathematical skills, learning to work with tools, and developing a vision of a completed boat from generalized directions, not with blueprints.

Richard Coffey noted, “Students are learning that technology is not replacing an iconic tradition of the area, but is instead, enhancing that tradition.”

The Summer Youth Boat Building Camps in Marshallburg will not necessarily train boatbuilders, though that is a distinct possibility. Instead, they seek to steer youth away from summer idleness into constructive learning experiences designed to develop self-motivation. The camps will focus on teamwork, learning more about an integral part of Down East cultural heritage, and combining classroom textbook knowledge with hands-on skills. When completed, the participants will have tangible evidence of their efforts, not a grade on a test, but a wooden boat.

They will have experienced using technology to maintain a cultural tradition, not replace it.

Campers from beyond the borders of Down East Carteret County are welcome. Special camps can be arranged for scouting, church, and school groups. Please visit the Donate page to help purchase wood, small tools, epoxy resins and other materials.

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Tags:Eco, Water, Air, Environment