District youth learning hands-on skills at SGEI’s welding camp

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

Seven Generations Educational Institute (SGEI)’s welding camp, which took place from July 11-15 gave youth aged 12-17 the chance to develop an interest in the skilled trades.

An SGEI press release said the camp gives kids an opportunity to exercise their creative abilities while being supervised by professionals in a safe working environment.

“[The camp] is a tremendous opportunity to engage youth in experimental learning and promote career pathways related to the field of welding and possibly other related trades,” the release said.

SGEI welding instructors Jason Tucker and Bob Guertin taught the camp, with help from Laura Wickstrom, a recent graduate of the welding program, and Julia Guertin, who volunteered as a student helper. They helped teach campers to create dog tags, metal roses, wiener roasters, burger flippers, cow bells, and a log and axe.

“The projects turned out really really well,” said Mike Jones, skilled trades program co-ordinator. “My favourite part was seeing the kids’ pride in the projects they created, and the enjoyment they got from working with their hands.”

Jones shared his thoughts on the camp’s importance on both a local and provincial level.

“There’s a need for skilled trades in Ontario,” he said. “It’s important for kids to know that there’s local options here; we can provide training at Seven Generations.”

He said another key goal of the camp is to engage kids sooner than usual.

“We’re trying to build awareness in the skilled trades, and get youth excited about careers in the skilled trades at an earlier age,” he said.

Jones said while career fairs help target high schoolers, this camp helps reach some who are even younger.

“That way, they can get interested before or during high school, so they can start taking shop classes,” he said.

Jones said the camp ran from 9 a.m. to 3 or 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with breakfast and lunch provided thanks to camp cook Brenda Wickstrom. It ran all last week, concluding with a family barbecue on Friday.

Jones said there were still some people on the waiting list, but the camp could only accommodate for 20 participants. He said the camp had run for about six or seven years prior to the pandemic shutting it down.

He said it was sponsored by the CWB Welding Foundation, the Rainy River District School Board, and New Gold.