Port Arthur-area high schoolers build, launch their own boats

Published 7:32 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

Monday night was the moment of truth for 12 Port Arthur-area high school students as they tested the boats they made during the Port of Port Arthur’s Camp Seaport II.

It was the second phase of a summer program hosted by the Port for more than a dozen years.

The free, week-long camp provides activities such as: boarding marine vessels, meeting professionals in the business, visiting with the Coast Guard and touring the facilities, touring the Port of Port Arthur and Port of Beaumont, learning about coastal conservation, learning seafarer skills such as map reading and navigation, learning to tie nautical knots and more.

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“They liked it so much, we had to create a second camp,” Camp Director Sarge Sharon said.

For the last six weeks, juniors and seniors from Camp Seaport I returned to work on cooking and creating life-sized kayaks by hand.

“They basically do six weeks of STEM projects and six weeks of cooking,” Camp Director Nikki Fitzgerald said. “They learn how to cook as if they were in the galley of a ship, and how to cook large portions for a lot of people. And with the boat projects, they are learning how to use power tools.”

Fitzgerald said the boat project required a great deal of diagrams, measurements and hands-on work.

“They are learning how to use diagrams,” she said Monday before the launch. “They actually had to use PVC. Some of these kids have never picked up a tool in their lives, so this is the first time they’ve actually engineered their own life-sized kayak boat. If they’re successful, their boats are going to float.”

One by one, the students began to launch their boats.

“I’m very excited,” said Alessandra Estupinan, 17, prior to testing her boat. “It was difficult to have the perfect measurements, but it came along so hopefully it’ll float.”

One by one, hard work paid off as smiling students boated through the pool at the Recreation and Senior Citizen Center on 9th Avenue.

Another five-day Camp Seaport Phase I begins this summer for students between eighth and 12th grade. Information on registration can be found at portpa.com.