In the third installment of our ongoing series Getting Young People Interested In Construction Careers we’ll be taking a look at MAGIC Summer Camps. Don’t let the name fool you, MAGIC Summer Camps have nothing to do with learning how to pull a rabbit out of a hat or sawing someone in half and everything to do with construction. MAGIC stands for Mentoring A Girl In Construction and introduces girls in high school to career opportunities in the construction industry.
The free, weeklong day camps allow young women to get hands-on experience learning basic skills in a number of trades including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, welding and masonry. With a major emphasis on safety, each MAGIC Camp starts off with a seminar on safety and hands-on training with the proper way to use personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, gloves, safety goggles and fall protection. Each camper is given their own hard hat, PPE and a set of hand tools to keep and use throughout the week.
Each day campers are given instruction from professionals working in the field in one or more construction skill. They then get to apply the skills they’ve learned by completing a project that they get to take home at the end of each day. Campers are taught how to properly use hand tools, power tools and the opportunity to operate heavy equipment. The campers are mentored by women role models working in the construction industry. In addition to the hands-on training, campers learn about a variety of careers in the construction industry available to them from professionals in the industry. On the last day of camp the girls are taken on a field trip to an active construction site.
MAGIC Summer Camps were founded in 2007 in Georgia by Renee Conner and Dianne Quimby and started with just one camp. Last year there were 25 camps held all across the country. In 2009, MAGIC partnered with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to allow individual chapters to host camps across the country. In addition to providing a nurturing and supportive environment for girls to learn basic construction skills, the camps are intended to instill a sense of self-confidence and build self-esteem in the campers.
MAGIC Camps are important because it is specifically targeted at getting young women interested in construction careers. Last week the National Women’s Law Center released a disconcerting report regarding the number of women working in the construction industry. Despite the fact that women make up 47% of the nation’s workforce, they only account for 2.6% of the construction industry workforce. The report goes on to state that a higher percentage of women leave apprenticeship programs before completion than men do. Discrimination in career and technical education programs based on outdated gender stereotypes, exclusion from apprenticeship programs and sexual harassment were some of the reasons the report cited for a lack of growth of women in construction over the past three decades. The fact that women are more than three times as likely to be subjected to sexual harassment in a construction job as opposed to one in the general workforce is embarrassing.
Programs like MAGIC Camps play a key role in not only introducing young women to construction, but also to provide encouragement and information on apprenticeships, scholarships and networking opportunities for a possible future career in the field. If you would like to learn more about MAGIC Summer Camps you can check out their website at http://www.mentoringagirlinconstruction.com/.