British Columbia

Carpentry camp for girls: 'We're going to leave our mark'

The camp, for girls age 12-15, is a free program offered at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, funded by the Government of Canada and Industry Training Authority—part of a wider effort to persuade more young women to enter trades such as carpentry and welding.

University staff say the demand for trade workers is rising as more retire.

Carpentry camp is a free program for girls ages 12-15. Girls spend a week learning to use power tools and read measurements and blueprints. (Jennifer Chrumka)

If you'd rather build things than play outside during the summer, carpentry camp may be for you.

The camp, for girls age 12-15, is a free program offered at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. It's funded by the federal government and part of a wider effort to persuade more young women to enter trades such as carpentry and welding.

Participants spend a week learning to use power tools, and reading measurements and blueprints.

Nicole Richter, 15, took part in the July session, and she says she loves connecting with girls in the program.

"A lot of times in trades, there's a lot of boys ... when there is a girl, it's like 'yeah', let's do this, we got this," she says.

Carpentry instructor Tully Journeay says the goal of the project is to build a playhouse. (Jennifer Chrumka)

Building doll houses

Some girls have knowledge of carpentry, said instructor Tully Journeay, but for the most part, there's a steep learning curve.

 Last week, the girls built a doll house which will be used at the university daycare. 

Journeay says some girls in the program even advance to taking trades in university once they graduate high school. 

Heather Hamilton, manager of industry and contract training at Thompson Rivers University says girls can fill the gap in the industry. (Jennifer Chrumka)

"When you start to see the kids ..now graduated and taking the programs at [Thompson Rivers University] ... and you see them in their coveralls.. hard hats, we have a sense of enormous pride that you had a tiny part in bringing them here," says Journeay.

Hayley Stibbs, 12, had some carpentry experience, after learning from her dad, but still got a lot out of attending camp.

"It's helped my people skills, talking to people and working with others," she says.

Heather Hamilton, manager of industry and contract training at Thompson Rivers University says the demand for trade workers is rising as more retire.

"Trades offer women the ability to take care of themselves, their families if they need to, they're well paying jobs...[it's a] hands on atmosphere where they have a lot of fun," says Hamilton.

Meanwhile, for the students who took part, this was one of the most memorable summers ever.

"You're actually getting together with people, and working with your hands to build something awesome… we're going to leave our mark, " says Richter.

with files from Daybreak Kamloops

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