From June 20-22, fifth and sixth graders are spending time at CMR High School in Great Falls participating in Kids Construction Camp. They learn how to use tools like a hammer and a circulating saw.
CMR High School hosts Kids Construction Camp
They’re putting what they’re learning to use by building bird houses and new planter boxes for the 10th Street Bridge in Great Falls to replace the planter boxes that were built by students in 2022 and then vandalized.
Cutting wood for a bird house down to size on a table saw was one of the tasks that kept students busy during the first day of construction camp.
The students were helped by volunteers who work in the trades in Great Falls.
“I’m a longtime fan of the trades, of skilled, blue-collar workers,” said volunteer Christina Keggi.
Keggi works for Central Plumbing, Heating, Excavation.
“It’s surprising that they do need so much help with the tools. Reading a tape measure, how to properly hold a hammer,” Keggi said. “As everyone knows, we’re having a hard time finding people to get into the trades. I think more importantly, we need to remind people how awesome this work is, how fulfilling, that you can create a wonderful career for yourself, a lucrative career.”
Jennisse Waters is also a volunteer. She’s an architect.
“I just find it’s an amazing experience to be able to just help them do something constructive,” Waters said.
As women, both she and Keggi are especially excited to be able to help the young girls in the camp.
“It took me a long time to have any confidence, so I get what it feels like to be a girl that doesn’t have a lot of mentors or doesn’t have a lot of leaders that look like them. Girls and boys and women and men think differently and it’s nice to be able to be somebody that they trust and say ‘Oh, you’re like me,'” Waters said.
“Young women are becoming a force in the trades and more young women are entering into the trades than veterinarian school or maybe even dental hygienist school. So the door’s been open the whole time, I think they’re just seeing that now,” said Keggi.
Both Keggi and waters are also proud to help the kids create the new planter boxes and hope these boxes won’t be vandalized.
“I think we need to take great care to not let that happen again. That undermines everything that they’re doing here, that we’re trying to teach them,” said Keggi
“Just being able to loom around the community and see something positive that they helped build that’s in the community that’s offering an element of joy is fantastic,” said Waters.
A ceremony will be held June 22 at the construction room annex at CMR to gift the new planter boxes to the 10th Street bridge trustees.