Alabama Building Camp Introduces Middle School Girls to the Trades
The Baldwin County Home Builders Association (BCHBA) recently completed its first Baldwin Girls Build Camp to introduce local girls to opportunities in the home building industry.
The concept for the Baldwin Girls Build Camp stemmed from the chartering of a Professional Women in Building (PWB) chapter at BCHBA in June 2022.
“Those members wanted to get more women involved in the industry and started thinking, ‘What can we do?’” shared Marsha Jordan, BCHBA executive vice president. “But instead of going after women, they said, ‘We need to start with younger girls’ and decided to start a camp.”
Jordan and local PWB Chair Nancy Grace requested space from the local school board — which has two technical facilities in the north and south areas of the county — to host the camp. The school board not only provided the facilities, but was also able to provide funding for the instructors, field trips, additional staff and materials. Local PWB members also sponsored the cost of food and snacks so that the HBA was able to provide the opportunity to the campers for free.
The initial weeklong program hosted 18 middle school girls from rising 7th through 9th grades, with a goal to introduce them to the trades and provide them with a hands-on project that they could take home at the end of the week. The campers were able to construct a lamp from scratch, as well as create a toolbox and laser engravings. Speakers throughout the week introduced the campers to all facets of the home building industry, including skilled trades as well as areas such as home mortgages and insurance, and shared their journeys as women in the industry.
“Our PWB volunteers were ecstatic with how much fun they had with these girls,” said Jordan.
On day four of camp, the campers took a field trip to lumber supplier Swift Supply, two homes sites — one completed, one under construction — and the 2023 Parade of Homes Showcase Home by Lemongrass Construction, and a tour of Coastal Stone and Cabinetry, where they competed in a group-based bathroom design contest that was judged by the employees.
Additional activities included an egg drop, scavenger hunt to identify the tools they had been working with, and a parent showcase on the final day of camp.
Planning has already begun on next year’s camp, which may coincide with the opening of Baldwin Preparatory, a new technical school in the county that will house a variety of trades both within and outside the home building industry.
The instructors are eager to help get the program in place, Jordan said. “They enjoyed it as much as the kids did,” she added.