Summer camp aims to empower young people through welding

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Lessons in welding are teaching kids much more than just the trade. Rosie’s Camp is all about exposure and empowerment.

Allie Bennett, 12, of Calais, is making sparks fly in Barre this summer. She’s one of 13 campers spending the week welding at the Central Vermont Career Center during the Rosie’s Girls Camp.

“Using like the new tools and stuff is like good and we also learn about the safety,” Bennett said.

Some campers came to stay sharp this summer.

“It’s like more hands-on work which is more fun to do than sitting for instance in school,” said Sophia Cafora of Waterbury.

For others, welding runs in the family.

“I’ve always been interested in welding and my uncle wanted to teach me how to weld,” said Airi Speranza of Williamstown.

The camp is for girls and gender nonconforming youth of middle school age. They’re spending their summer becoming young carpenters, woodworkers, welders and plasma cutters.

“We introduce girls to fields that are nontraditional for their gender, where women are underrepresented in the field. And we then also overlay that with their social and emotional curriculum,” said Caelan Keenan of Vermont Works for Women.

Keenan says learning new skills and having in-depth conversations about friendships and being in middle school help the campers get out of their comfort zones.

Keenan adds that tradespeople are in high demand right now and they see an opportunity to get girls interested and feeling empowered at a young age.

“We, as an organization, look for fields that are low barrier, don’t require a lot of extensive training, that are high paying and that are, you know, in demand, and welding is one of those skills,” Keenan said. “We’re trying to break that mold, break the gender stereotypes around the field, whether it’s a hobby or it’s a career totally.”

Campers say they’re leaving with confidence they hope to carry with them later in life.

“Like when I live alone one day and something breaks down, I have experience from a child knowing how to do this stuff,” Cafora said. “So like I don’t really need help, I know how to do it myself.”

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