Summer camp provides girls with skills in the trades

Posted on Tuesday July 14, 2015
The Skilled Trades camp campers
The Skilled Trades camp campers

Learning one new skill over the course of a summer is impressive in its own right. Twenty-three young Grade 7 and 8 female students are learning a new skill every day over the course of 10 days at the RCDSB’s free Women in the Skilled Trades Summer Camp on now at Renfrew Collegiate Institute in Renfrew.

 The camp opened its doors to students from the Arnprior and Renfrew area and is teaching the young women about the skills and opportunities in the Skilled Trades.

“Opportunities in the workforce for girls have never been more diverse and exciting and we believe by introducing the non-traditional skilled trades to girls, it will help them explore options they might not otherwise have considered,” Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program liaison and camp coordinator Terry Hoelke said. “During the camp, the girls will be exposed to a variety of skilled trades by working on various projects in an atmosphere intended to be fun and collaborative.”

Each day a different female trades person visits the camp, shares her experiences in the industry and also shares a bit of her knowledge with the campers. The students have learned various skills in welding, sheet metal, carpentry, automotive, cosmetology, electricity and many more.

Students have learned to change oil and rotate tires on vehicles, they’ve made rockets, boomerangs, planters, bird house and paddles – all things they get to keep, take home and show off to family and friends.

“I enjoy it,” said Tiffany Wright, who will be going in to Grade 9 next year. “I think it is giving me lots of opportunities to try things I wouldn’t normally get to. I’ve learned a lot of things. I hope it goes on next year too. It gives me something to do and it’s so much fun.”

And when the girls aren’t working, they are enjoying some pretty good food. Each day the campers’ lunch comes from a different country. Not literally of course, but there is a theme every day and the caterers provide some popular treats from cuisine around the world.

“The lunches here are amazing,” Nadine Kosowski said, who will also be attending Grade 9 in the fall.

And all the campers seem pretty fond of Mr. Hoelke.

“He’s pretty fun to be around,” Nadine said. “He sings a different song every couple of minutes and he’s pretty funny.”

Both Nadine and Tiffany said they plan on taking technology courses in high school and credit the interest they have developed in the trades to attending camp.

“We want to make an awareness for the girls that yes, you can be a tradesperson – women are capable of doing anything in the trades,” Hoelke said. “Male plumbers are making $55 an hour in union-certified jobs. Why shouldn’t women?”

For more photos from this year's camp, click here.