Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Camp Gives Kids a Glimpse of the Future
Have you ever started a project because the person who brought it to you was someone you liked working with? Two years ago one of my colleagues thought we should hold a manufacturing camp through the Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Foundation and since I liked working with her I said yes. This program would provide tools and funding for summer camps focused on manufacturing. The college had recently received a large grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to start a manufacturing program so the concept of a camp fit in with the goals of the college, and I could work with valued colleague. A real win-win.
That year we held two Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs camps and a Girl’s Career camp. It was important to me to have a camp just for girls as I know that women, at some point in their lives, often support their family on their own salary. I wanted to expose girls to fields that are traditionally male dominated so girls could see other opportunities that may pay more than the traditional women’s careers. Plus, girls often let boys take over on projects and I didn’t want that to happen. And, I know that in middle school, youth begin to think about their career, even if they do not fully realize this. Between the first year and this year, I have more than quadrupled my camp offerings.
When the children returned the second year, it was obvious that they were looking forward to the camps. They already had experienced our camps and wanted to return. Once I had started with the camps, I was committed to continuing them. I had one youth attend camp the first year, come back for all the camps the second year, and return again this year. Although it takes a fair amount of coordination, all is forgotten on the last day of camp during the awards ceremonies when I witness the exchanges between the children and their peers, their instructor, and their parents. We invite parents to the certificate ceremony, and they tell us that their children love the camps, as they are dragged to the lab to see what their children have learned/made. They say that their children were not ones that would normally attend “soccer camp” and it was nice to have an option for them.
It is not inexpensive to run the summer camp program and the local community pitches in. In exchange for the funding, each camper receives a shirt with all of the donors’ logos. The Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs requires that speakers come in to talk to the children about their business. It also requires a field trip off site to local manufacturers. Local companies (some are Fortune 100 companies) send speakers and bring trinkets for the kids. Manufacturers provide students with a concept of the value of manufacturing to the world. This is a way for companies to start their recruiting process very early. The youth are excited about their camps and the companies are excited to provide this opportunity for them.
Many people often question why I spend the time and energy on youth camps. The camps benefit everyone, the children love the opportunity to expand their learning over the summer in an experimental way. The parents enjoy seeing their children engaged during the summer with their peers. The college benefits by bringing potential students onto campus and it strengthens our relationships with the community. The companies like building good will and working with youth who are genuinely interested in what they do. If you’re thinking about having a camp, donating to a camp, or sending your children to a camp, feel free to contact me at 603-206-8161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is so much to be gained for everyone.
About the Author
Dr. Kathy DesRoches is the workforce development director at Manchester Community College (MCC) in Manchester, New Hampshire. Prior to MCC, Kathy worked at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Kathy’s department offers open enrollment courses in computers, English as a second language, energy safety, and construction. In the customized arena, Kathy has worked on projects ranging from soft skills, to manufacturing and English as a second language to welding and advanced computer programming.