This is a quick tour of the camp woodshop where I've been helping kids turn their ideas into a working wooden reality since 1995. With about 50 students each week I estimate that I have around 2,000 kids pass through the shop each year. Holy Cow!
Our camp sits snug deep in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina on 900 acres of beautiful land where the air is clean and the wildlife is abundant. I believe that this great natural environment where the kids wake up to the sounds of squirrels, crows, and a variety of churping birds that the perfect foundation is laid for the best in their creative abilities. Woodshop is a favorite class that is only rarely missed and it is a time to relax and come up with a working plan to turn their ideas into a successful final project.
Perhaps in a future video I will showcase some of the projects that have been created inside our doors. Just about anything that you can imagine has been made here. Simple projects such as boxes of every kind, walking sticks, nameplates,and birdhouses. Some students have spent several months working on more complex projects ranging from multi-compartment boxes to full sized dog houses. I might also mention that we also have a very strong woodcarving program and students can earn their Boy Scout woodcarving merit badge.
Our shop is 32' X 16' and I designed it with two double-doors on each end for easy entry and exit of larger projects and sometimes just to let that mountain sunshine in. I can safely supervise 5 students at a time and find that our shop, although on the small side, is adequate for this group size. This size shop would also make an excellent shop for the home hobbyist and I personally couldn't imagine needing more.
As mentioned I set up this shop and the tools to meet the needs of kids between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. Large stationary power tools that the kids are allowed to use after proper training include scroll saws, drill press, mini-lathe, and a belt/disc sander. On occasion and under strict supervision mature students can be trained on the bandsaw, table saw, thickness planer, and the jointer. Safety is never-ever compromised and we continue to have an excellent safety record going on 15 years now.
Living in the mountains of North Carolina I have spent almost 30 very
rewarding years working with at-risk kids in a wilderness camping program as a counselor, outdoor educator, and woodshop teacher. To learn more about what my blog is all about, just scroll down this sidebar to "About my blog..."
1. Woodcarving/Woodwork: Working wood has been a lifetime obsession for me and I enjoy sharing what I know. It is my belief that hands-on and experiential learning has a direct and profound effect on the development of a child's intellect, confidence, and character. Projects of mine (and my students) will be posted as they progress and I will occasionally include a video tutorial. All of my videos can be found here .
2. Bushcraft/Primitive Living Skills: Finding ways to live closer to the land has always fascinated me. Whether it's building a shelter, fire starting, animal tracking, or just making rustic furniture... you'll eventually see some of it here.
3. Long Distance backpacking, canoeing, & bicycling: Some of my long distance adventures include thru-hiking the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada and I solo paddled the 1,800 mile Yukon river across northwest Canada and Alaska to the Bering sea. More detailed accounts of these and many other adventures can be found here
4. Sustainable Living: I'm always looking for better ways to do more by using less. It's not so much an "environmental" thing to me as it is a quest for personal independence from material things and finding a path to more substantive living .
5. Scouting Activity: As a scoutmaster of 6 years (and currently assistant scoutmaster) I'm actively involved with the troop and "Order of the Arrow" where it is a joy to volunteer hundreds of hours each year because investing in the next generation insures a better tomorrow for everyone. In an era when most schools don't value hands-on learning, outdoor education, and the arts... scouting soars in meeting these critical experiences for boys.
6. Profiles: Behind everyone's success you can usually find a trail of some very significant mentors and teachers along the way. And sometimes you don't completely understand how someone affected your life for the better until many years later. You'll find some of those stories here.