Career Camp Returns: Preparing for the Future Today | News

Speaking of busy: Diana Robinson’s schedule this week has her all over the map: Tuesday she spent all day in the kitchen, Wednesday she went to the living room, and today, well, today is all about welding.

But while it’s an eclectic list of activities, the map is pretty easy to follow. All the 14-year-old Robinson has to do is remember his run at Crawford Tech.

The school is the location of Career Camp, the county’s three-day youth scouting opportunity hosted by the Crawford County K-12 Career Education Alliance. A summer vacation staple for decades, the camp last took place in 2019, when Crawford Tech was still called the Crawford County Career and Technical Center. Now three years, a name change and a pandemic later, the camp is back, featuring nearly 50 eighth and ninth graders enrolled in the basics of everything from diesel technology and precision machining to wiring and welding.

Robinson, a rising ninth-grader at Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High, chose the camp option that allowed her to select three areas of interest and spend one day in each of Crawford Tech’s related workshops. caught up with her on Wednesday afternoon, she was in the middle of one of the most relaxing moments of her busy schedule: leaning back in a salon chair while instructor Andrew Locke performed a scalp treatment on her.

“We can learn new things,” Robinson said, explaining what made the camp experience so enjoyable.

Cosmetology, for example, was not something that interested her much before her day tour of the Crawford Tech cosmetology shop.

“I am now,” Robinson said, turning away from the mirror in front of him.

In addition to offering children the opportunity to not only imagine but see themselves in specific occupations, Career Camp acts as a recruiting tool for Crawford Tech.

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Locke, the instructor, said from behind the chair holding Robinson. “We’re showing them some of the things we do here.”

It’s hard to imagine a better school or camp ad than Locke. Locke, a 2021 Crawford Tech graduate, had first stopped by the cosmetology shop when he was at Career Camp.

When he entered his senior year last year, he was competing in and winning a national competition for career and technical school students. Now, she is in her second year as a stylist at the Cutting Edge salon in downtown Meadville and is replacing her former teacher, who is in Atlanta with another cosmetology student from Crawford Tech vying for national honors.

But it’s not just the school’s cosmetologists who are recruited through Career Camp. Walking down a flight of stairs and around a few corners, Crawford Tech instructor Jim Hillwig led a group of students through creating metal tags to introduce the basics of precision machining. During her 25 years at the school, Hillwig has taught almost every Career Camp and has seen students from almost every summer program show up again and again in her classroom throughout high school.

“This is probably the best recruiting tool we’ve ever had,” Hillwig said. “The first two years, you’re like, ‘Yeah, sure,’ but when you start to see kids coming, and they come and go, you’re like, ‘Yeah, this really is a good thing.’ ”

Nearby, 13-year-old Riley Shaw and a group of his campmates at the pre-engineering camp option were checking Shaw’s metal name tag, which was further along than the others. At the design workshop the day before, the group had helped produce plastic labels with their names laser-etched in fancy script. Campers could now choose any phrase they wanted, not necessarily their names, for the metal tags.

On Shaw was the phrase “Star Wars.” His interest in a series known for its prominent use of “droids” and his involvement in the field of pre-engineering were not coincidental. The eighth grader at Meadville Area High School already has a good idea of ​​what he wants to do with his life, an idea he developed after learning about it from his father.

“I want to be a robotics engineer,” Shaw explained. “I’ve had a passion for this for a long time.”

Whether students enter Career Camp with a specific passion, like Shaw, or to experiment with various fields, like Robinson, they get a solid dose of real-world experience, according to Eileen Mullen, who hosts the camp each year.

Mullen, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the new Crawford Tech logo, stood in front of a whiteboard in the school’s cafeteria and explained that the camp covers both the soft skills that employers value and the hard skills that are often more valuable. attractive to students. .

In addition to the camp’s cell phone policy (can be used during lunch but must not be visible at any other time), the board reminded students of the importance of communication, respect, and safety and offered a list of five key steps for soft skills. success: show up, read the list, every day, on time, sober and drug free with a positive attitude.

“I think the hard skills get you the job,” Mullen said, “but it’s the soft skills that keep the job.”

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