Building Support for Girls in New Fields

Water skyrockets from the City of Warrenton’s leak simulation. Photo credit: Brian Crouter

Water sprays high above the duct while technicians move a full circle clamp over a raging leak in the pipe. “Use your leverage and lean into it, now go back to the middle…you got it,” Trisha Hayrynen, City of Warrenton Public Works Analyst directs. The spray stops and the water is redirected successfully. This victory was felt by each participant in Girls Build Camp at Warrenton Grade School this summer. The camp attendees, 8-14 year old girls, were instructed in plumbing, carpentry, welding, and other trades during their week adventure.

Katie Hughes, Girls Build founder says when participants show up on Monday morning to camp they are quiet and generally unsure of themselves. “Then we gear ‘em all up.” Each girl is issued a hard hat, safety glasses, a tool belt and a hammer. “By the end of the first day they are stoked, by the end of the week they are on top of the world,” she claims. Throughout the week the girls are fully engaged in projects. Each day they rotate through four stations learning and challenging themselves through three types of projects with the guidance of an all female staff.

Norah Allsbury, 4th grader at Warrenton Grade School, measures for another teammate when building the playhouse

One project is a week long collaborative creation. The entire camp builds a playhouse from the foundation to the roof. When the girls visit this station they pick up where the last group left off, painting siding or cutting beams, “By the end of the week they see how we did this together,” Katie says. Izzy Blankenship, Astoria Middle School 6th grader explains. “We’ve painted and hammered so far, it’s grown quite a bit since we were here last.” The project is then donated, this one went to Astoria Headstart.

The second type of project is an individual project that is completed throughout the week. Katie explains that the girls see the time and effort that it takes to create something beautiful. This project is sent home at the end of the week as a reminder of their hard work.

Lastly, the girls participate in one project a day that is a ‘one and done’, Katie explains. “It is fun and functional.” The water simulation created by the City of Warrenton Public Works department for the camp, was one of these projects. The girls had to problem solve in a stressful situation to fix a leak. Other projects are tangible, over the course of eighty minutes a birdhouse, tool box or lamp might be created and ready to be utilized immediately. This is a valuable lesson as well, Katie says, it teaches girls that although some projects are lengthy and time consuming, some projects can be done quickly, perhaps after school or on a weekend afternoon.

This inspiration for continued work is what Katie and Girls Build are hoping for, not only for the girls to want to keep learning, but for the city as well. Girls Build’s history is in Portland and Grants Pass. After implementing camps in these locations, Katie worked with area schools for full year engagement by starting after school programs. “Our hope is we can gather support here, so it’s not just a one shot thing,” she explains.

This amazing event came to Warrenton this year due to a generous donation from Hampton Lumber. “We wanted to bring the opportunity to a community where we have a manufacturing facility,” Kristin Rasmussen, Public Affairs and Communications Manager for Hampton Lumber explained. She says the company already works with career and technical education (CTE) initiatives and is invested in increasing gender diversity in the wood products sector and all trades. “Considering jobs in the forest sector pay twice the average wage in Clatsop County, women need to know those opportunities are available to them and that manufacturers like Hampton will welcome them with open arms.” Growth in female representation in these fields is the foundation for the camp. Katie Hughes worked closely with Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. before founding Girls Build in an attempt to create a pathway for women to fields where they aren’t typically employed.

The City of Warrenton, Hampton Lumber, and so many other area businesses are gung ho about Girls Build returning to the area. Kate says people have been going the extra mile to make things happen for the camp and they feel welcome in the community. Brian Crouter, City of Warrenton’s Water Quality Technician Supervisor explains his experience when reaching out to businesses for the camp, “What do you want? What do you need? As soon as we asked, people were ready to give.”

Hampton Lumber fully funded the camp this year including the day to day workings and room and board for the nine counselors on Katie’s team. “Next year we hope to have local instructors,” Katie explains, now that the camp has a foundation in the area. City of Warrenton’s Trisha Hayrynen and Hallie Sweet from Public Works were on site already this year blazing the way. Many more individuals and businesses have approached the camp about helping to support its growth in coming years.

Hampton Lumber and the City of Warrenton hope this camp will start a trend in the area where more girls pursue CTE options at school, take on projects at home and consider careers in a trade. Katie says there is never a favorite activity among campers, no matter which girl you ask, they always have a different answer, because everyone has different passions. From welding to plumbing to carpentry, Girls Build is the place to discover these passions.

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