With school out for the summer, now is the perfect time to capture the time and attention of students. To meet the moment, the Home Builders and Remodelers of Central Connecticut (HBRA) partnered with the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club in Wallingford, Conn. to add careers in construction to their summer camp activity lineup.
"Our workforce is aging out, and we are trying to do whatever we can to get in front of the younger generation. The Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club summer camp was the perfect fit for the effort," said Sheila Leach, Vice President of Operations, HBRA.
HBRA created six weeks of careers in construction programming to add to the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club summer camp, which includes students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
For campers in kindergarten through second grade, HBRA adapted the curriculum from The House That She Built. To ensure full participation, HBRA members Andersen Windows & Doors and East Haven Builders Supply donated the books for each camper.
"We decided to incorporate The House that She Built materials because we want to carry the message that the skilled trades are not just for the boys…girls can do this too," said Leach. "And we want boys also to know that girls can succeed in the skilled trades."
For third through eighth-grade students, HBRA provided programming two days a week and selected lesson plans available from NAHB. One day a week focused on instruction and the other day featured a speaker from the industry.
HBRA members representing all facets of the industry, from builders to electricians, shared their passion for the job with students and invited them to ask questions. The students also had the opportunity to complete a hands-on skilled trades activity led by the speaker.
"We've found that students haven't been exposed to the trades and if they had been provided a little bit of this exposure, they may find it interesting and pursue this as a career path," Leach noted.
HBRA plans to host a celebration for the participants at the end of the camp this summer. The younger students will pair up with the older students into teams and use craft materials to construct a house. HBRA members are donating the materials and assembling kits for the activity.
In addition to the generosity of the HBRA members, Leach says the summer camp's success is partly due to NAHB's workforce development team providing programming ideas and materials. HBRA is one of a dozen HBAs participating in NAHB's Boys and Girls Club pilot program this year.
Planning activities for the local summer camp took time and effort, but Leach encourages other HBAs and members to consider leading a workforce development program for students locally.
"We exist as an Association to serve and benefit our members. Ultimately, workforce development programs are an investment that pays off for our members and the entire industry," said Leach.
To get involved with NAHB’s Boys and Girls pilot program, complete the form on nahb.org.