October 9, 2023 (Langford, BC) – The traditional school year may have been out for the summer, but Skills Ready workshops and camps were very much in session. A number of weeklong camps and one-day gateways took place, with participants from across the province and all walks of life receiving introductions to the trades and career opportunities.
Camps featured several projects sourced from a number of trades: toolboxes; copper bracelets; PVC water guns; electrical cords; concrete planters; sprinklers; Yard Yahtzee; soldering activities and more! A Mason Bee Hive project was offered for the first time and is now being refined for a future introduction in a traditional classroom setting. In addition to the bees, a miniature green house project through Skills Ready’s new Build Green United initiative was also introduced, with plans to further develop the project in scope, scale and feasibility.
Skills Ready activations occurred across Vancouver Island, North Vancouver, Terrace and Kitsilas First Nations, Quesnel, and Bella Coola, to name a few. Ages for the camps, workshops and tours were varied, with participants aged 10 years up to 45 years young attending different Skills Ready events.
For Skills Ready’s director of project operations Rene Ragetli, weeklong summer camps—four of which he and Construction Foundation colleague Lisa Scott facilitated together—allow for an experience for attending campers like no other.
“The value of the weeklong camps can’t be overstated,” said Ragetli. “You have a small group of 15 or 16 participants and you have each of them for five days and you’re working with them for three to five hours a day. You can cover more, they are getting two or three hands-on projects per-day and a dozen to 15 projects over the course of the week, plus they’re meeting trades people.”
Beyond the skills that are acquired and developed throughout the weeklong camps, the experience also has a positive impact on campers’ growth as people themselves.
“I’m always surprised by how fast the kids have learned and grown in that week,” added Scott. “It’s a little scary on the first day for them. Some have no friends and don’t know who will be there. On numerous occasions, the kids do not want to go, they don’t want to come in and they’re scared and shy. By that afternoon you wouldn’t think it was the same kid and by day two, they’re at the door in the morning waiting to get in.”
Single day outings with the Girl Guides of Canada and a group of young women in a sheet metal factory in North Vancouver were also deemed a success. Following a July sheet metal gateway course, the majority of the attending women now find themselves employed in the industry, while a separate event in late September with residents at a minimum security healing centre was referred to by Ragetli as one of the ‘best days’ of his year.
“It was great to work with people who really appreciated going the extra mile,” explained Ragetli. “Working with youth is its own reward. Working with adults who are looking for a new start and second chance is very moving. It felt like a real privilege to be involved in that event.”
The work continues into the fall season for the Skills Ready team, who are already preparing for next year’s lineup of spring and summer activities.
For more information on the work being done by CFBC and to donate, please visit constructionfoundation.ca.