Students sharpen skills at Girls Can Construction Camp

A student uses an electric saw to cut through a piece of wood at the 2016 Girls Can Construction Camp at the Shelby County College and Career Center in Columbiana on June 9. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

A student uses an electric saw to cut through a piece of wood at the 2016 Girls Can Construction Camp at the Shelby County College and Career Center in Columbiana on June 9. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

 

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County High School junior Ambry Martin is vocal about her positive experiences from the annual Girls Can Construction Camp at the Shelby County College and Career Center.

Martin has been involved with the program for three years, and each time, she has shared what she has learned with her family, particularly her younger sister.

This year, Martin’s sister decided to try her hand at the same skills and trades in the weeklong camp, which exposed participants to carpentry, plumbing, electrical and welding specialties June 6-10.

“I would go home every day and tell her all of what we did,” Martin said. “She was so excited to do it.”

Martin served as a Junior Counselor on the volunteer team at this year’s camp and mentored participants as they worked on projects throughout the week.

“I talk to everybody and figure out what they like about this so far,” Martin said. “I love meeting all the new girls and seeing how they have all these interests.”

Fifteen female students from Calera, Columbiana, Oak Mountain, Chelsea and other areas in the county participated.

“They’ve done wonderful,” said Tom McNeal, workforce development specialist with Alabama Power. “They’ve really wanted to be engaged and get into the project.”

Kali High-Howard, a ninth grader at Calera, was a first-time camper who signed up in preparation for taking carpentry at the SCCCC.

“I like carpentry and that we can do it ourselves,” High-Howard said. “But we have help if we need it.”

High-Howard said she also learned how to weld.

“This is a good camp to make new friends and meet people who have common interests as you,” she added.

Participants made a wooden chair, a lamp, a small sprinkler system and decorative items using scrap metal.

Plumbing was a new addition to the camp and will be offered at the SCCCC this year, too.

On June 10, the last day of camp, participants went on a job site tour at Alabama Power Company’s E.C. Gaston Electric Generating Plant and gave project presentations to family and guests.

After a catered luncheon, students received certificates and gifts.

Ten to 12 volunteers helped SCCCC instructor Van White and other staff members with the camp daily, including representatives from Alabama Plumbing Association, United Rentals and Alabama Power.

Go Build Alabama sponsors Girls Can Construction Camp.

“The girls have all been just so excited,” Shelby County Schools Career and Technical Education Supervisor Julie Godfrey said. “These girls come in and they know nothing about any of these things, and once they leave, they’ve been exposed to all those skills and trades.”