Build-it camp 2015About 20 students — including eight girls — participated in this spring break’s “Build-It” camp, a new partnership between Portland Public Schools, PWA and many others.

During this two-day March camp at PPS headquarters, students from seven high schools learned about educational paths to the higher-wage jobs within the construction industry, and they built toolboxes as well. We at PWA reviewed the student evaluations today, and we noticed two themes: They liked it –and they want more, more, more opportunities for hands-on learning.

“Longer camp time,” said one.

“More hands-on work would be great,” said another.

“More use of the shop’s tools so I could make my box unique,” said a third.

Organizers are developing additional experiences to satisfy that hands-on craving (while accommodating safety rules governing the use of power tools).  The long-term goal is to educate students about satisfying construction careers in Oregon: The average wage for a construction worker in Oregon is $51,000, with experienced employees in the skilled trades and in supervisory positions typically earning considerably more.  Retiring baby boomers are creating big demand — and big opportunities for young people.

Anyway, back to the students at the Spring Break Build-It Camp. Here’s what else they said about their experience:

  • “I learned all sorts of new and different things. … It has given me a better view of work in these fields, which makes them feel more accessible.”
  • “This was a good experience for anyone who is interested in learning about the trades and being informed about the skills, should-dos and must-dos on the way to a career after high school.”
  • “I love buildings and I don’t want an office desk job.”

Partners include PPS, PWA, the city of Portland, Portland Community College, the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute, Howard S. Wright, Turner Construction, Lease Crutcher Lewis, Portland Fasteners and Skanska. Several of these partners are involved in the new “PACE” Mentorship Program, which begins next week.

Additional reading: “Camp exposes students to construction careers,” Portland Public Schools, March 26, 2015

Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools. 






Spring Break “Build-It Camp” creates a hands-on experience for PPS students