hen people think about summer camp, they usually think about cabins, canoes and campfires. Welding, on the other hand, doesn’t even come close to making the list for most — that is, unless they are one of the girls who spent June 20–22 at the girls-only welding camp at Weber State University.
These girls, ages 13–18, spent three days exploring the science, craft and careers surrounding welding. They got hands-on experience, making everything from jewelry to combination locks.
The camp was designed to teach girls about the opportunities welding can present for them and give them a chance to experience welding hands on.
Additionally, the camp aimed to provide a space for girls to learn about the welding career field.
Welding is a male-dominated industry. The 2010 Census reported that only 5.4 percent of welders in the U.S. are women.
Andrew Deceuster, one of the instructors for the camp, mentioned that most of the time a welding class will have maybe one or two women in it, but they tend to shy away and participate less in male-heavy welding classrooms.
However, according to Deceuster, the atmosphere changes completely in the all-girls camps.
“When we have these camps with all girls, it allows them to go on those ideas and … have better understanding,” Deceuster said. “You’re able to help them explore things they wouldn’t quite otherwise explore, and they’re not as timid about it.”
Mark Baugh, another instructor and the program coordinator for welding and engineering at Weber State, said he hopes to see girls become more comfortable using the technology involved with welding and that programs like these will help lead more girls into Weber’s welding programs.
“Our program is very limited,” Baugh said, as far as women in the program are concerned. “But they are always successful when they come, so we’d like to get more started in the program and try and make them more comfortable.”
Both Baugh and Deceuster agreed that the girls seemed to listen better than the boys, and the girls also picked up skills more quickly than expected.
From an instructor’s standpoint, the camp was a success. As far as the campers were concerned, it was a hit as well.
Kenna Nieman was one of the girls who attended. She’s a fifteen-year-old high school junior interested in pursuing a career in aeronautics.
She wanted to attend this camp in particular because this one was all girls, and she worried about being judged at a co-ed camp.
“I think it’s really sad that it’s usually frowned upon when girls want to take engineering and science classes,”
Nieman said. “There aren’t many camps where you can come and do all the things that normally guys do.”
While Nieman attended this camp in order to be more comfortable, 13-year-old Sydney Sowerby came to make herself uncomfortable.
Before the camp, she had a fear of fire and wanted to push herself by learning welding, which she’s wanted to try but has been nervous about doing.
“I’ve learned that being around 2,000-degree lasers isn’t that bad, and as long as you’re careful and cautious about it, it’s really fun,” Sowerby said.
As much fun as she had, Sowerby mentioned she is more interested in medicine than engineering, but she is keeping an open mind.
While it was a big part of the camp, not all the girls attending were there for the engineering aspect of welding.
Camille Allred, who will be attending ninth grade in the fall, came to the camp because her family welds recreationally.
Recent high school graduate Elizabeth Parra also attended because she is an artist who has been experiencing artist’s block and saw in the camp an opportunity to expand her horizons before starting college.
Camps like this one provide girls with the opportunity to learn new things and change the way they see the world, no matter what they are interested in.