A group of Minnesota teens are setting sail on their goals through the Urban Boat Builders Program. Teens ages 16 to 19 spent the past three months working as a team of paid apprentices to build wooden canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards.
But under the surface, there is a much bigger lesson than just building a boat that can float.
The focus is to teach these teens how to be hardworking and build character.
"They have to face a barrier to employment, which can mean a lot of different things, but basically it means they're less likely to be successful in their future without a program like urban boatbuilders,” Urban Boat Builders Executive Director Marc Hosmer said.
"It taught me a lot of out of school things, something school doesn't always teach,” added apprentice Julio Flores.
The launch is one of the most exciting parts of the program where they get to celebrate all of their hard work and success and highlight all that they have learned. "I would say I was struggling before because I would say I’m not very good at communicating with people that much,” said apprentice Ktru Moo.
"I can be serious and passionate, lovable, smart, strong, strong worker,” added Hill.
Now that they know their boats can float the teens are sailing off on a wilderness tour and then the boats will be sold with all proceeds benefiting the urban boat builders program.
"Seeing they actually float, all the work we put in them and people trying them out and 'whoa this floats,” Flores said.