PRATT — Pratt native Hayden Schrag didn’t just sit around twiddling his thumbs during the months of the COVID-19 shutdown this summer.
Between working full time for the City of Pratt Recreation Department and developing duties for an internship position he holds with Future Legends Sports Complex in Winsor, Colo., the 2016 Pratt High School graduate launched a canoe-building adventure.
Schrag, a May 2020 graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., earned his undergraduate degree in sport management from Wichita State University in fall 2018. During those school years he occasionally took on a small woodworking project or two, inspired by 4-H woodworking beginnings and high school woodshop experiences.
Back at the family home in Pratt this summer with parents Amy and Brian Schrag because of coronavirus restrictions, Schrag said, he spent most of his off-duty summer hours building his canoe. He talked his dad into letting him commandeer the family workshop in an outbuilding at their residence north of town, and "Prospector Ranger" was born.
"My dad has always advocated the ability to work with your own hands, so I think the ability to make anything with your own hands will always be in style, will always be cool," Schrag said.
It was last year, while he was living in D.C. in cramped housing with other students, that the idea of building a canoe became intriguing, Schrag said.
"I was inspired by other boat builders," Schrag said. "I tracked their progress online. I couldn’t stop thinking about it at all."
So last December Schrag ordered a set of plans from a Canadian firm and, while he was home in Pratt with his family for Christmas, he built a long, thin table to serve as a stand for the project.
He didn’t know then that because of a pandemic he would have more time to work on the project that he originally thought.
Schrag estimates he will have about 400 hours of labor and love invested in his two-person hand-crafted canoe when he finishes, which he said is about twice as long as it would generally take a skilled woodworker.
"I tend to work quite methodically and cautiously," Schrag said.
Tasks that remain to be done before a projected 2020 launch: Complete the sanding, fiberglass the canoe with epoxy to waterproof it, attach seats and trim and varnish both inside and out.
"It's already been a project that's challenged me greatly and I look forward to progressing toward completion," Schrag said. "I can’t wait to get it on the water. It’s going to be awesome."