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Urban Promise

Urban BoatWorks

UrbanPromise launched Urban BoatWorks in 2009, a hands-on program for Camden youth (grades 6-12) to build canoes, kayaks, and more. It reconnects them to the city’s waterways and maritime history.

UBW engages 75-85 students each year, combining boatbuilding with environmental education and maritime history. Students build incredible boats, learning valuable skills and problem-solving along the way. These semester and year-long projects culminate in launching the new fleet at year-end, a celebration with the community.

Partnerships with the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum and the Independence Seaport Museum reinforce Camden’s rich maritime heritage. Students experience the local waterways, fostering a sense of pride and environmental stewardship.

Unique to UrbanPromise is the RiverGuides program. High school students gain employment while learning water safety, paddling, and the ecology of the Cooper River. They lead over 300 community members in water-based activities, providing education and enriching experiences.

The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust values Urban BoatWorks for offering a safe space for students to learn outside classrooms. It allows them to connect academics to real-world situations, explore careers, and benefit from positive relationships.

The W. W. Smith Charitable Trust first awarded a grant to UrbanPromise in 2014 to support the Urban BoatWorks program and has awarded a total of $327,435 to-date.

The boatbuilding program, housed in the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum, works in tandem with UrbanPromise’s on the water programming to first teach maritime history and culture through boat construction and then provide meaningful experiences on the water for both the students who participated in construction and the community at large.

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