4284 Avalon Drive, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Sheriff Kevin Rambosk demonstrated his trust in the community’s youth Friday as he set sail in a handmade rowboat constructed by a group of them.
Piloted by 17-year-old Patrick Ridgway, the boat was one of four constructed in a Build-A-Boat summer program the Collier County Sheriff’s Office held over the summer as part of the larger Summerfest summer youth activity programs.
The Sheriff’s Office wrapped up Summerfest Friday by launching the four rowboats into Lake Avalon in Sugden Park.
All four boats, all piloted by the children, successfully floated as roughly 100 deputies watched.
“I think the deputies had just as much fun as the kids,” said Jackie Johnson, mother of participant Ian Johnson.
Since June 14, the agency has held an assortment of activities to provide local youths with fun activities to fill their summer alongside deputies of the law enforcement agency.
Among the activities were fishing clinics, free movies, summer camps, open gyms, driving and bicycle safety lessons. Rambosk said his deputies made more than 50,000 contacts with local youths over the summer.
“This gives our deputies an opportunity to work with young people and create a strong bond for the future,” said Rambosk.
Aidan Brennan, 15, of Naples, earned his boating license while constructing one of four wooden rowboats, the Git-R-Done, in the 40-hour Build-A-Boat class.
“I enjoyed the rewarding feeling of that boat not sinking in the water,” said Brennan.
The four boats constructed by the kids — the Mossy Oak, Git-R-Done, A Summers Dream and Gatorbait — will be auctioned at a later date by sponsor Marine Industries Association to fund next year’s construction.