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Learn teamwork, basic woodworking skills and STEM skills used not only in boat building but in everyday life. Discover the career opportunities available in such fields as carpentry, composite construction, marine systems (mechanical, electrical, plumbing), marine transportation, recreational boating, and marine ecology as well as many others! Engaging students in the boatbuilding process with Chicago Maritime Arts Center is a great process for youths ages 11-15 years old to learn, practice, and apply academic concepts, as well as skill and working with others, in a unique and hands-on environment that stimulates learning.

While building boats, students learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills, as they follow building plans, use specialized tools and materials, and solve problems. Whether applying techniques of angle and length measurements, or understanding material properties to construct a seaworthy, durable boat, students have the chance to learn and develop a variety of hands-on skills and experience.  Projects are individualized to challenge students of middle or high school age, no matter their academic level and developmental stage.  Boatbuilding is an unconventional, yet unique way, of engaging ALL students, teaching tools and life skills they can use throughout their lives independent of success in more traditional classroom settings.


In 2022, CMAC added a new program called Mariners In Training (MIT).  Working with a dozen students from Bowen High School on the South Side, the program included 30 hours of intensive training including CPR, proper use of fire extinguishers, on-water boating experience, knot tying and proper use of life jackets.  The program was led by Rob North, Associate Director of CMAC (please include a pic) and a sailor, Marine, finish carpenter and star of his own TV home improvement show.  Two graduates were hired full-time by Chicago tour boat companies, and several of the others are looking forward to jobs when they turn eighteen this year.   

For 2023, CMAC is expanding the program to include swimming instruction, and orientation to different maritime career options including the Coast Guard.  We are excited to offer a program focussed on helping students manage the transition to full-time work on the water. In developing this program, CMAC has exceptional support from the tour boat companies which require several hundred new recruits annually, as well as Shipmasters International and the Chicago Public School system.

The cost per participant for CMAC Boat Building programs is $500, however, scholarships up to $450 are offered. Prior to the start of the program, a registered participant may submit a short essay explaining why they wish to participate in the program and why they are in financial hardship to pay the program costs.

The cost per participant for the CMAC Boating Skills/Marine Ecology program is $250, however, scholarships up to $200 are offered, prior to the start of the program, if a registered participant submits a short essay on why they wish to participate in the program and that the cost of the program would place a financial hardship on the family. 

A “Participant Release and Indemnification Consent, Medical Release, Liability and Photo Release” form must be completed prior to the start of the program. Please fill out the ONLINE FORM when registering.  

We look forward to having your child, ages 11-15 years old,  involved in our upcoming Chicago Maritime Arts Center program!

​To register - sign up for a class below.

(Check back soon for our exciting updated upcoming schedule) 

  • Chicago River Day 2023
    Sat, May 13
    Canal Street Marina
    May 13, 8:00 AM – May 14, 10:00 AM
    Canal Street Marina, 2129 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
    May 13th – Join Chicago Maritime Arts Center for Chicago River Day with Friends of the Chicago River at Canal Street Marina. Children, Adults and families welcome to help clean the river.
  • Summer 2023 Boating Skills/Marine Ecology Program at Southern Shore Yacht Club
    Jun 19, 9:00 AM – Jun 24, 9:00 AM
    Southern Shore Yacht Club, 6401 S Richards Dr, Chicago, IL 60649, USA
    The one-week program, with the support of Southern Shores & Jackson Park Yacht Club, will work with teens ages 11-15 years-old to learn about boating safety, rowing, kayaking, protecting our Chicago rivers and Lake Michigan, water testing, and sailing. Join us!
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