By Dani Sheehan.
This year was the second year for the Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls in Northeastern Ohio, a five-day summer camp for middle and high school girls to learn the construction trade. It was started by Shelly Higgins, the architectural and national accounts director at S-5!, and has continued support from National Women in Roofing (NWiR) and other incredible women throughout the industry. We recently had the chance to sit down with Maureen Greeves at Weatherproofing Technologies Incorporated (WTI) to learn more about this amazing camp and how to further encourage women to enter construction.
Not only is this camp a great opportunity to introduce young girls to construction, many of whom have never held a hammer before camp, but Maureen says it also brings the trades together in one place. She explains, “There’s so many people that volunteer their time and we leave titles and company names and positions at the door and it’s all just really about sharing knowledge and supporting the girls that are there to learn and participate in the camp, which I think is really cool.” There’s time for more structured discussions about companies and panel discussions, but at the end of the day it’s not about selling or marketing. She goes on, “I think that’s one of my favorite things that I’ve discovered about the roofing industry is that, yes, you compete, but everybody comes together for the greater cause and the greater good, which is unique for sure.”
Tremco and WTI are looking at hosting a camp in the future as Shelly talks about expanding it outside Northeastern Ohio, but they are already closely involved in the operations and talent of the event. They typically donate hard hats and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for the camp, as well as various tools. Weather-permitting they’ve been able to create mockups each year and get the girls working hands-on on a roof. Maureen explains, “This year we went back to the basics, and we really spent a lot of time teaching them about... a three-course repair on a roof. So, we had some Modified Bitumen sheets down and then forced a rip or puncture to simulate a small repair. Then said, okay, here’s something you would get up on the roof and look at and you’d find this needs a repair.” They showed the girls how to complete a three-course repair with mastic and fabric. They got some great hands-on experience.
Maureen’s looking forward to getting a WTI Let’s Build camp up and running and sees this as a great opportunity for young women and the trade industry overall. She’s the mother of two girls who like to roll their eyes at her when she reminds them that they can always get into the trades. She says, “You know, we did a really great job talking everybody into college and everybody listened, and everyone stopped going to trades and working with their hands. And now I think we’ve taken a step back, rightly so and said, you know what, maybe college isn’t for everybody and there’s some really great opportunities in the trades.”
Camps like this one are also a great way to reach underrepresented populations and provide opportunities for people and children who otherwise may not know what all of their options are. No matter what part of the industry you enter, roofing is a great place to find not only a career, but a community that looks out for you.
Learn more about Tremco WTI in their Coffee Shop Directory or visit www.tremcoroofing.com/wti-and-services/wti-general-contracting/.
Dani is a writer for the Coffee Shops and AskARoofer™. When she's not writing or researching, she's training for trail races and working on her yoga teaching certification.
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