Summer Programs

We have 9 weeks of summer day camps for kids—all of them on boats. Kids can experience maritime life in many ways, from dinghy sailboats to marine life to boatbuilding. Summer camps are divided into two programs: Messing About in Boats, for 5 to 10 year-olds, and Learn to Sail for 8 to 16 year-olds. Scroll down to learn more! Register online at the button below, register over the phone by calling 360.385.3628 x104, or register in person at the Wooden Boat Chandlery, 431 Water Street, Port Townsend. To register for programs offered by our community partners, follow the contact information given in each program description.

Messing About in Boats

Experience the sea! Messing About in Boats offers a multitude of ways for kids to experience maritime life in a fun, hands-on way. From our home in Point Hudson, young sailors enter the maritime world by meeting real captains, crew, and shipwrights in their element, heading out to sea in rowboats, powerboats and sailboats, and learning what it takes to live on and by the sea.

No matter the program, each child is in a boat every day. Our staff keeps them safe and engaged while learning about our maritime world. Li’l Scuppers and Jr. Mariners get exposed to everything, Jr. Shipwrights spend time boat building in our shop, Jr. Discoverers focus on marine life and spend a day at the Marine Science Center, and Jr. Pirates hunt treasure and generally wreak havoc!

Full Day Camps (8-10 year-olds)

Jr. Mariners:
Take to the Sea learning the crafts and songs of a savvy sailor bound for imaginary destinations around the globe! Students explore local boat shops, search for messages in a bottle, sail large sailboats, row and drive wooden power boats.

Jr. Discovers:
Explore the rich marine and tidal life in Port Townsend Bay! Discover our world through beach walks, boat trips, and a visit to the PT Marine Science Center.

Jr. Pirates:
Get underway with a scurvy crew! Discover the real history of pirates through stories, treasure hunts and captaining your own vessel. It’s a HARRRRRD life on the sea but we manage to have boatloads of fun. A summer delight!

Half Day Camps (5-7 year-olds)

Li’l Scuppers is a half day program (morning or afternoon) for 5-7 year olds. All themes focus on fundamental skills: knot-tying, basic weather, sea life, environmental stewardship, boat types and parts, and field trips to meet local shipwrights, sail makers, riggers, fisherman, and other salty dogs.

Learn to Sail

New boats, US Sailing certified instructors, a year-round windy bay, and a beautiful waterfront location at the Northwest Maritime Center dock combine to make our learn-to-sail program one of the best in the region. Diverse, challenging waters and excellent instructors teach competent sailing for all conditions. The perfect place to introduce your child to sailing or take their skills to the next level. We also offer a girls-only sailing week.

Have fun. Since the early 1990s, our sailing instructors have taught hundreds of people to sail on Port Townsend Bay. In 2006, NWMC and Jefferson County YMCA expanded the fleet to offer new Optimist Dinghies, the most popular learning dinghy in the world, and Vanguard 15s, two-person planing hull dinghies. These boats are safe, fast, and fun!

Beginners start in an Opti dinghy—sailing on the very first day, with instructors alongside them in our inflatable chase boats. Each day brings new skills and confidence as each student gets to learn by doing in a safe and positive learning environment. Intermediates review their Opti skills and then graduate to the Vanguard 15s, sailing in twos and threes to learn crew teamwork while tacking and jibing 2 sails. Advanced sailors learn racing techniques and sail to different destinations around Port Townsend Bay. We also feature a Girls’ Only Beginner Sailing class each summer. It all adds up to great fun on the water.

Girls’ Boat Project Summer Intensive

In this this shop-based class, girls will learn how to safely use hand and power tools as they work together to build a small boat. They will also be creating a small individual bench project to take home at the end of the session. This week long intensive is an extension of the Girls’ Boat Project, which takes place weekly during the school year, but all girls all welcome! To learn more visit our blog.

Boys’ Woodworking

NEW! Spend a week in our boat shop learning about wood, hand tools, creativity and planning, and how to bring them all together in a safe and fun way. Starting with shop safety, hand tool basics and terminology, students will complete their own project during the class to take home at the end of the week. We’ll also learn more about the bigger projects in our shop and explore how our new skills fit into the world of wooden boats.

Marine Biology Afoot & Afloat

Calling all budding Marine Biologists (ages 10-13)! This camp takes marine biology skills to the next level through hands-on activities. Students sail aboard Northwest Maritime Center vessels while doing scientific investigations. Ashore, students participate in inter-tidal surveys and labs in touch tanks and exhibits. Campers work together as a team while learning to be stewards of the marine environment. This program is in collaboration with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.

[Click here for more information and online registration]

NW Outward Bound: Northwest Sailing & Alpine Backpacking Course

A 15 day course for 16-18 year olds including 7 days aboard a NWMC longboat. Outward Bound sailing courses focus on maritime and wilderness skills such as navigation, natural history, exploring islands and living aboard. During the alpine backpacking section of the course, students will work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades.

[Click here to register]

Salish Sea Sciences

June 24-July 20
lish Sea Sciences is a 26-day residential summer program that connects high school students with research scientists from the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories, the SeaDoc Society, the Whale Museum, the US National Parks Service, the Northwest Maritime Center, and others in and around the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Includes a 6 day expedition aboard a NWMC longboat.

[Click here to register]

High School Sailing Team

The Port Townsend High School Sailing team is an extremely successful and positive program which has sent some of our local sailors to district and national competitions. They sail in the spring, on Vanguard15s, FJs and Lasers. Their motto is, “Sail Fast and Have Fun!” Many team members become sailing instructors in our summer youth camps. For more information contact Coach Sugar Flanagan at