Tag: engineering

LRWP Boat Building Inspires Connection to the Raritan River

Article and photos by Theo McDermott-Hughes. The LRWP is grateful to the PSEG Foundation for generous funding support through the PSEG Neighborhood Partners Grant Program for our “Youth Empowerment Through Boat Building”.

Aadharsh, 16, has always feared the water, making him a perhaps unlikely volunteer for the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership boat build. This LRWP program aims to increase engagement with and understanding of the Raritan River. Moving water is something Aadharsh had avoided for years, yet this was his second year participating in building a canoe as a member of the Sewa International Central Jersey youth program, which he participates in as a junior at JP Stevens high school.

Aadharsh was drawn to the boat building project and the LRWP because of his love for the environment and dream of being an engineer. After building these boats, starting from the paper designs and research all the way through the construction process of fixing the panels in place and weaving the cane seats, Aadharsh now leads his engineering class at school as they use the same processes and skills he’s already learned in the boat house.

Even more than practical skills and insight into the engineering process, he’s gained deep sense of fulfillment, one he struggled to express as he laid his hands on the lacquered hull of last year’s canoe. “Watching the boat come to life” under his hands gives him the energy to come back each week. He gazed at the panels striping the side of the boat with a sense of awe, bordering on reverence. “You see that?,” he said. “We did that.”

As Aadharsh’s father, Sakkaravarthy, watched his son work with other volunteers to attach the paneling, he expressed his great pride. He always tries to sign up to chaperone the teen volunteers when Aadharsh comes to the build. Not only does he get to watch his son explore his passion, when they return home and Aadharsh inevitably spends dinner enthusiastically talking about what he did at the boat build, Amid can smile along with understanding and pride.

Now, both father and son look forward to the boat launch, when the new canoe will hit the water for the first time this summer along with past years’ boats. Aadharsh can’t wait to paddle down the river that was once such a source of fear.

Join LRWP volunteers like Aadharsh and Sakkaravarthy at our boat-building session on Wednesdays from 6-8 and Saturdays 9-11. Pre-registration required. See you soon!