Construction Careers Foundation and Dunwoody College of Technology partner with Girl Scouts River Valleys to introduce Girl Scouts to careers in construction.
Marine on St. Croix — It’s not every day that a hard hat sits atop every head at Camp Lakamaga, but the sight was not uncommon by the end of June when nearly 100 female construction workers and girl scouts took over the campsite for a week-long construction camp.
During the week of June 20-26, 2021, girls from Girl Scout River Valleys, participated in Power Girls camp. The camp aims to teach girls construction and trade skills with the intent of inspiring them to consider a future in the trades, where many businesses and local unions are looking to recruit more women.
Power Girls gives young girls a chance to learn from women mentors and see themselves in these types of hands-on careers in the future.
“Women make up just nine percent of construction workers in the United States, despite the fact that these competitive jobs are some of the few in the country where there is no gender pay-gap,” said Learn2Build Director Mary DesJarlais. “We want to make sure that girls get these experiences when they are young, so they are familiar with tools and comfortable using them. By the end of the week, girls who have never picked up a tool before are confident in their abilities and take pride in creating their projects.”
Girls Scouts River Valleys provides year-round programming that reaches girls ranging in age from 4th (about 10 years old) to 12th grade (18 years old). The Girl Scout River Valleys Council has partnered with Dunwoody for years and has since grown to encompass women mentors from across all trades and sponsors such as K.A.H.R. Foundation, Power Partners Minnesota, Opus, NECA St. Paul Chapter, Viking Electric, Stahl Construction, Andersen Windows & Doors, APi Group and Dunwoody College of Technology.
Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys (also known as “GSRV,” “River Valleys,” or “council”) is one of 111 Girl Scout councils in the United States. It serves 25,400 girls in southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and one county in Iowa, and is supported by more than 9,000 volunteers.
“This year more than 50 girls were in attendance — and being at full capacity for a weeklong program shows that girls are interested in this stuff, they just need opportunities and tools to try it out,” DesJarlais said.
Throughout the week, Power Girls attendees worked on projects involving electrical, tiling, project management, research and design, carpentry, and sustainable design.
“Power Girls does a great job showcasing the variety of skills applications and roles in Minnesota’s construction industry,” DesJarlais said. “Power Girls camp is an empowering, all-girl environment where girls can try something new while being mentored by women with successful careers in the trades. At camp, they see firsthand, ‘She is like me – I can do this.’”
As mementos of their time tackling the ins and outs of construction, the girls decorated their own personalized hard hat and constructed their own toolbox to take home. Whether or not these campers go into careers in the trades, they all now have a few handy skills that will see them through to the future.