'Kids really need some kind of a role model, a place where they can learn about this stuff.'

The idea came to Mike Watters after he spoke to a neighbor about a local teenager who was mowing and aerating lawns to help pay for college.

Decades ago, lawn mowing and other forms of manual labor were a common source of income for entrepreneurial adolescents. Yet as technology evolved over the years, interest in the skills and tools used by those who work with their hands seemed to trend in the opposite direction.

It's difficult to use a hammer, after all, when a smartphone is glued to your hand.

Watters, a longtime community volunteer and member of the West Linn Lions Club, wanted to revive a lost art. With the help of other Lions, he organized an inaugural Youth Tool Clinic that will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McLean House. The event is free and open to boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 17. Throughout the day, attendees will learn how to use tools ranging from hammers to pliers, saws, wrenches and screwdrivers, while also learning specific skills like how to change a tire, mix cement and — yes — mow a lawn.

"Kids really need some kind of a role model, a place where they can learn about this stuff," Watters said. "There are some kids who maybe don't have a father, and have no opportunity to garden or pick up tools. And there are lots of girls who would like to do it, and no one has given them an opportunity."

The event will be broken up into four sessions, each lasting around 40 minutes, according to Watters. The first session will cover shovels, hoes, rakes and other digging tools for gardening. Following that will be a primer on cements, glues and attachments, including a demonstration of cement mixing. Hammers, screwdrivers, pliers and wrenches will be covered after that, and at the day's midpoint Roundtable Pizza will provide lunch.

A mechanic from Les Schwab will also be on hand to demonstrate how to change a tire, and the last session of the day will cover lawnmowers.

"And then we'd like to give them a certificate of completion," Watters said.

The event will be run by Lions club members and other community volunteers.

"You don't have to be a craftsman (to volunteer)," Watters said. "If people would like to help out, I'd appreciate it."

The Lions consider the Youth Tool Clinic a trial run that will help them evaluate the prospects for more classes down the line.

"Maybe the next one could be plumbing and electricity," Watters said.

The event is limited to the first 25 kids who apply. To register, contact Watters at 503-557-7529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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