Underwater Basket Weaving: The History and Places

With school starting up soon, it’s only appropriate to talk about one of the most talked about courses across the country, underwater basket weaving. For those interested, here is the history of underwater basket weaving and the places where you can learn.

The History of Underwater Basket Weaving


underwater basket weavingPhoto Credit: John Berkowitz


Basket weaving is completed by having dried willow rods and soaking them in water so that they are pliable. Once they are pliable, The willow rods can be weaved into a basket. Since the dried willow rods have to go underwater for a bit, that’s where the saying of underwater basket weaving comes about - sort of.

You don’t have to use dried willow rods to weave a basket either. You can even use newspaper. If you’re really interested in making a basket, here’s a tutorial using newspaper.

Now, it was a common phrase during the Vietnam War since many males went to school to avoid the draft. People would take classes that weren’t valuable, and many would use the phrase of “oh, he’s majoring in underwater basket weaving” which implied “oh, he’s majoring in uselessness”.

The media picked the term up and used it all over the place to describe some of the classes that students were taking. The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times both used the term at some point to talk about the state of education. A lot of criticism came on football players as well since they were taking a lot of classes like “underwater basket weaving”. Sounds a lot like a lot of the criticism of student athletes today.

The phrase became so common that Senator Gordon Allott from Colorado said, “the situation that we were in after World War II where we had universities setting up courses in underwater basket weaving, and all this sort of thing”.

Senator Allott was correct in some ways. There are present day collegiate courses that offer underwater basket weaving. For example, Rutgers has created a zero credit class on it. Check out the video below. As Micah Lebowitz puts it, “I needed more stuff for my resume, and I really wanted to impress future employers”. We’re impressed you can do underwater basket weaving now, Micah. Keep up the good work!



If you’re interested in impressing employers like Micah, here is a list of places where to learn how to do underwater basket weaving:

  • Reed College in Portland, Oregon
  • Rutgers University in New Jersey
  • UC San Diego in San Diego, California

Now, we know learning to become an expert in underwater basket weaving is serious business, so here is our guide on adventuring in each of these places.


The Places


Portland, Oregon - Reed College

Portland is the largest city in Oregon and is the 26th largest city in the United States. It’s named after Portland, Maine and was founded after many traveled the Oregon trail. Portland is a natural wonder as it sits on an extinct volcanic field known as the Boring Lava Field. One of the most well known volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, is 50 miles away from Portland too.

If you’re planning on being there for the school year to take your underwater basket weaving class, Portland has rainy winters, so it’s perfect for making sure the reeds you’re using don’t dry out while you’re on your way home.

For those that love the environment, you won’t be the only one to do so in Portland. It’s been named one of the most sustainable cities in the United States by many, most notably by Popular Science in 2008 when Popular Science named it the Greenest City in America.

Also, Portland is one of 4 cities in the United States with an extinct volcano. This makes for some incredible views when you’re hiking as the area is quite scenic. Mount Tabor Park is common spot for adventuring around Portland.

Mount Tabor Park is known to be an incredibly clean park and has something for everyone as there’s tennis courts, playgrounds, and even a dog park. On Tuesdays, there are free concerts too. Below is just a glimpse of what Mount Tabor Park has to offer.


Yelp underwater basket weaving portland

Photo Credit: Yelp 

For even more information on Portland, Oregon, check out this visitor’s guide to Portland by Ott’s World.


New Jersey - Rutgers University

If you decide to take your underwater basket weaving talents to Rutgers, be aware that Rutgers has three main campus with the original campus being in New Brunswick, New Jersey. For that purpose, we’ll focus on New Jersey as a whole.

Unlike Portland where it rains a lot, Rutgers has snow during the school year, so be careful with your baskets as they might freeze. You don’t want your underwater basket weaving projects to be wasted! All that time and effort gone, just because of the cold.

There are plenty of adventures to go on in New Jersey, including the Delaware Water Gap that New Jersey shares with Pennsylvania.


Wikipedia Delaware Water Gap Underwater Basket Weaving

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 


The Delaware Water Gap is a National Recreation Area and is similar to going up North in Michigan. If you remember a recent post about the Best State Parks in Michigan, it’s really similar to the Porcupine Mountains in some ways.

There’s plenty to do with kayaking, hiking, and even a scenic drive. There has been some damage to some of the trails due to storms the past year, so make sure you check the Delaware Water Gap website before you venture out.

If you’re up for an even bigger adventure, the Appalachian Trail does run though some of New Jersey. The Appalachian Trail is the largest hiking trail in the world. It starts in Northern Georgia and ends in Maine. On the New Jersey part of the trail, there has been a lot of black bear activity, so be careful if you’re in on the AT in New Jersey!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Appalachian Trail and what it takes, check out this post by BikeHikeSafari where he documented every day he was on the trail.


AT underwater basket weaving

Photo Credit: NYNJ Trail Conference



San Diego, California - UC San Diego

UC San Diego is located in, you guessed it, San Diego! It’s the 7th oldest campus of the University of California and if you love mascots that involve water, its mascot is the Triton!

triton underwater basket weaving

Photo Credit: Wikipedia


San Diego is the 8th largest city in the United States and is on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, so if you have a desire to do underwater basket weaving in saltwater, maybe you’ll have a better opportunity here rather than the other two places above.

San Diego doesn’t rain as much as Portland will in the winter, but it’s wettest season is during the school year, from December through March. It’ll help keep your underwater basket weaving projects in the spring semester. Good luck during the fall semester when it’s a bit dryer. If for some reason you’re taking your underwater basket weaving class during the summer, it barely ever rains, so it’s probably not your best idea to just have your project outside during this time.

We haven’t talked much about this activity ever, but San Diego is a great place to surf, especially near the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla. There are hiking trails along the Pacific coast which make for some great sunsets.

San Diego was named the 2nd Best City for Fishing by Field and Stream Magazine, so if you’ve ever wanted to try saltwater fishing, this is a great place to try it. There are plenty of charters that will take you out to catch some great fish. If you just want to fish off one of the piers in San Diego though, make sure to check if it’s okay. Only 7 of the ocean piers in San Diego allow it.

There are freshwater fishing opportunities too. Within San Diego city limits, there are over 20 lakes and reservoirs with trout and sturgeons.

If you’re looking for more information on San Diego, make sure to check out this visitor’s guide by Indiana Jo which is much more comprehensive than what we have here.

Now in all seriousness, underwater basket weaving isn’t something that will necessarily impress employers. Maybe it’ll impress us here at Fathom in the future since we’re about adventures and underwater, but don’t count on it. If you’re at one of these universities though, these could be a fun way to break the mold of normal classes or fun things to do. Maybe it’ll inspire you to get scuba certified or learn a new hobby. Who knows?

Hope you had a fun time reading this post. Let us know what you think and if there’s any way we can help you adventure more, drop us a line at hello@fathomdrone.com. We’d love to hear about your own adventures too. Maybe we’ll even feature it!

And if have done underwater basket weaving in the past, please let us know. We’ve yet to meet anyone who has actually done it.