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High school girls build careers at Camp NAWIC San Diego

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High school girls had the opportunity to learn about careers in construction this summer through Camp NAWIC, a hands-on free day camp hosted by the San Diego Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. Camp NAWIC celebrated its eighth year of camp from June 22 to 28 at the Stanley Foster School of Engineering, Innovation and Design at Kearny High School in San Diego.

Camp NAWIC was created as a community outreach project to kindle interest among high school-age girls in pursuing careers in the construction industry, where women are still vastly underrepresented.

“We hope the girls who participate in our camp training sessions interact with both men and women construction professionals, and understand they are welcome in the industry and can see themselves capable of mastering the skill sets necessary to be successful,” said Linda Young, Camp NAWIC co-chairwoman. “This is a wide open field for women and incredibly rewarding, with good salaries and opportunities waiting for them.”

Kirk Taylor of West Coast Air Conditioning and ABC plumbing/pipefitting committee member, assists a Camp NAWIC participant. Photo by Tracey Barrett

During their week at Camp NAWIC, girls were divided into two groups. First-time attendees, or “apprentices,” learned the basic skills of carpentry, electrical, concrete, plumbing, sheet metal and surveying. Returning campers, or “journeywomen,” refreshed their skills and participated in a hands-on building project. This year, the journeywomen constructed concrete and wooden benches to benefit the school.

Prior to the start of skill courses, all Camp NAWIC participants completed four hours of safety training and passed a written exam. Safety briefings took place daily at required meetings for participants at all levels.

Construction industry volunteers from apprenticeship programs including the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, Associated General Contractors of San Diego, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Sheet Metal JATC contributed their time as instructors and mentors to the campers. They teach not only basic construction skills but leadership lessons to enhance the ability of the young women to work together as teams to accomplish a job. Practical application of all lessons is emphasized throughout the camp.

Camp NAWIC received funding from the NAWIC San Diego Future Leaders Foundation, the recently formed 501c3 charitable arm of NAWIC San Diego. Tax-deductible donations to help support Camp NAWIC and other efforts of the Future Construction Leaders Foundation can be made at www.nawicsd.org or by contacting Linda Young at sdwic@cox.net.

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