Currently living in Greece, I only recently learned that Newton’s Charles River boathouse will change radically (“River boathouse operator loses bid for contract,” May 5). Though half a world away, my heart lies with the boathouse. It was a home during my teenage years. I, along with countless others, owe many of my professional and leadership skills to Larry Smith and staff. When evaluating this change, the public should know how important Charles River Canoe and Kayak has been for the area’s youth.
From a 14-year-old dockhand to a 20-year-old certified kayak instructor, I developed lifelong skills at the boathouse. (I am 31.) Past experiences teaching kayaking to the public inform my current academic teaching and science-policy outreach. They also lend me a unique perspective about balancing environmental and local business needs for environmental management. The boathouse also provided structure. It was our lives during the summer, and of the constellation of things teenagers will do, paddling boats and chatting on the dock after work were some of the better options.