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Lakewood Boathouse provides a location along the shores of Lake Whatcom for students and the community to partake in watersports, but they do more than just rentals. From June to August, Lakewood runs college courses and programs for children that teaches participants how to operate the equipment at its facility.

Lakewood works with Western’s Youth Programs, and since 1981 has taught kids and students proficiency in different kinds of watercraft.

For children 11 and up, it offers five-day camps in sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. Enrolling in one of these courses will earn Western students one credit with an additional fee. With limited space, student manager Jack Thompson said the classes fill up quickly.

“Quite often for sailing and windsurfing, there will be a waitlist that is 50 people long or more,” Thompson said.

With funds from these programs and private lessons, Lakewood is able to pay its employees and reinvest the money back into its programs and facility maintenance.

Lakewood manager Jeff Davis said the majority of the payment from the camps for children goes to the instructors.

“About 70 percent is the hourly wages for the instructors, and the balance comes back to Lakewood,” Davis said.

Davis said the facility is funded through Western’s Associated Students.

Lakewood also operates a rope challenge course and rents out the lounge on location to both Western and private groups. Together, these activities allow Lakewood to maintain the grounds, hiking trails and the over 60 watercraft they rent out to the community.

This fall, they’re offering a new kayaking class to Western students that will conclude the quarter with a trip to the San Juan Islands.

Student instructor Gabe Hill said paddleboarding is one of the most popular activities at the facility.

“I know a lot of people like coming out here and paddleboarding,” Hill said. “If there was some kind of class that involved paddleboarding more as a focus, that would be interesting to students.”

While paddleboarding has been discussed as a new class, Thompson said the difficult part is coming up with a plan for the class. 

“There has to be a curriculum with written outcomes,” Thompson said. “What are we teaching them? Why is it an academic thing we’re doing? What skills can you teach them that prove you’ve taught them something, and how to be better at what they’re doing?”

No matter the activity, Davis said they try to look at nontraditional populations when discussing new programs and attracting new people to Lakewood.

“Are they not here because they don’t know about it, they don’t know how or they don’t want to?” Davis said. “Navigating through those questions in order to make sure anybody that has access understands they can come out here, and if they want help they can get it with doing whatever it is they’re here to do.”

Lakewood is open all year long, and seven days a week in the summertime. 

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