Cameron Wells has twice won trophies in a Medford cardboard boat race, so now the Central Point teenager plans to take on Lake of the Woods this summer. - Jamie Lusch

Cardboard boater hopes to cross lake

CENTRAL POINT — Just months before summer vacation, 13-year-old Cameron Wells has a slightly different goal than most seventh-graders for how to spend it.

With three years "engineering" experience, two official trophies and some serious knowledge of the inner workings of cardboard and Gorilla Glue under his belt, the Scenic Middle School student hopes to navigate the waters of Lake of the Woods this summer in, by then, his fifth ever cardboard boat.

Hooked on the concept of cardboard boats after entering an event sponsored by the Medford Parks and Recreation Department beginning four years ago, Wells has taken the official trophy and a customized boat paddle in two of the three years he's entered the race.

His first boat, the Razorback, didn't fare as well but provided some solid learning experience.

The Banchee, his second vessel, won the race for his age division and yielded more tips to making a better boat.

Last year, the BioHazard prompted him to seek a bigger adventure on bigger waters.

After two solid wins in his age category, he set his sights on something larger than Medford's Hawthorne Pool: Lake of the Woods.

"Me and my dad just thought, since I've been racing cardboard boats for awhile, we should try to do something bigger," Cameron said. "My dad asked if I wanted to cross Lake of the Woods, so I said, 'Sure!' "

Already dubbed the Endeavor, Cameron's new boat began taking shape this past week. It's one of two boats he's working on; he plans to show up for the annual Medford race with a lightweight rig.

The Tresher, this year's race boat, will be lightweight and, Cameron said, "built for speed." Set to hit the water two weeks after the Medford race in July, the Endeavor will be a different creation, built to endure the amount of time it takes to navigate the two-plus miles across the lake.

Cameron's dad, Mark Wells, said he thinks its "highly likely" the pair can build a boat to navigate the lake. If they can't, he reasons, attempting to do so will at least be entertaining.

"We're gonna give it a shot," he said. "We've learned a few things with the boats we've already done."

If all goes as planned, both boats will be adorned in Gorilla Glue stickers as he dons a Gorilla Glue T-shirt. In addition to cardboard sheets and tubes, the boats are constructed with glue and duct tape in most cases.

Cameron uses the brand name glue that touts itself "for the toughest jobs on the planet." And "tough" will be a necessity for whatever absorbent vessel Cameron attempts taking across the lake.

If his boat commands enough of a presence, he's hoping for some notoriety.

"We like to read these 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' books, so we thought maybe we could get in one by doing something like this," Cameron said.

"We called them and I think they're going to show up."

With three years of race experience under his belt, he thinks he stands a chance getting across the lake.

He's got some tricks up his sleeve and says he'll avoid mistakes he said are commonly made by amateur cardboard boat builders.

"Me and my dad have discovered a really flat boat is what works really well so what we're gonna try and do is make this one as strong as possible."

"We've learned stuff every year about what makes the best boats. And if we don't make it across the lake, we'll learn what not to do the next time."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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