For the 3rd year in a row, GFPS and the Industrial Technology Department have hosted a summer construction camp for 5th and 6th grade elementary students. In 2020, students constructed dog houses which were then donated to the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center. In 2021, trash can enclosures were built by the students and were placed on the River’s Edge Trail.
The 2022 Kids Construction Camp was held at the CM Russell STEM Center June 21, 22, and 23. From 9:00 AM to noon each day, 40 5th and 6th graders completed two projects. Guided by 3 GFPS instructors and 10 community volunteers, students made 10 planters that now enhance the 10th Street Bridge as their “community project”. Their take home project was a jewelry box.
The popularity of this camp brings 5th graders back the next year and siblings wait anxiously for the opportunity when they graduate to those grade levels. Students work in groups of 4, gaining experience in using all necessary power tools and applying their learned math skills of measuring, computing, figuring area, and using fractions. A toolbelt furnished with a tape measure, safety glasses, speed square, and gloves along with a T-shirt and hard hat not only aided each student during the duration of the camp, but armed them with the beginning tools to complete projects at home once the camp was over.
Mark Yaeger, Career Pathway Advisor for Great Falls Public Schools, and one of the instructors of the camp, commented, “I loved seeing the differences in thinking between genders. Each was special in their own way.” He also stated that watching students “get after” the work of building the planter from a plan and collaborating with their partners was a highlight of the camp.
With only 3 days and 9 hours, the challenge is to come up with a project idea that is demanding enough for the students, but able to be completed within that time frame. The challenge has been accepted and met for the past three years. By hosting this camp, the hope is that it will spark an interest in students enough to enroll in trade classes in middle and high school.
This camp could not be run without the generous support of community volunteers (who, by the way, come back year after year) and partners. We would like to thank the Home Builders Association, Dick Anderson Construction, Stockman Bank, Cushing Terrell, TC Glass, Sound Pro, Independence Bank, Johnson Madison Lumber, and the Other Guys Wood Floors, Inc for their sponsorship and contribution to the enrichment of GFPS young minds.