Girls Can campers master construction skills

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Donning pink hard hats and safety glasses, a dozen female students learned the ins and outs of carpentry on June 10, the first day of the annual Girls Can Construction Camp at the Career Technical Educational Center.

The weeklong camp, open to eighth-10th grade girls in Shelby County, gave participants an opportunity to work on carpentry, welding, pipefitting and electrical projects, and to learn about careers in the different fields.

“It’s pretty cool because you actually get to do the main part of it instead of just the small parts of it,” Chelsea Middle School student Catherine Burnett said of the bookshelf project on the carpentry day.

Laci Kelley uses a nail gun to assemble her bookshelf.

Students learned how to use a table saw, miter saw, nail gun, tape measure and other tools in CTEC instructor Blake Ray’s carpentry shop.

“I just like it so far,” Oak Mountain Middle School eighth grader Jeorjia Jones said. “I like the saw, and I just learned how to use a tape measure.”

As in previous years, volunteers from camp sponsor Alabama Power Company helped with each day’s activities.

Laci Kelley, a 10th grader at Calera High School, served as Junior Counselor this year.

“I participated last year, so they asked me to come back this year,” Kelley said. “It was a good opportunity to come back and participate.”

Alabama Power volunteer coordinator Teresa Mims praised the volunteers for their assistance in ensuring the camp runs smoothly each summer.

“They step up and put in long hours. I think it’s just as good for them as it is for the girls,” Mims said. “By the end of the week, these girls are so enthused, so happy. We try to get them to really get into this.”

The camp concluded June 14 with a field trip to Alabama Power’s E.C. Gaston Electric Generating Plant in Wilsonville, followed by a celebration lunch and certificate presentation.

“We look forward to it every year,” volunteer Debbie Williams said of the camp.