Thanks to Thad Goodman, FCSI, CDT, CCPR, LEED Green Associate, Construction Design Manager and the Great Lakes Region for sharing this post at the national level.
In 2016 the Greater Lehigh Valley CSI Chapter founded an outreach to get young women interested in the construction industry. Founding pioneers Jon Lattin, CDT, CCPR and Kristen Fallon garnered chapter support and created a program called Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls. Their first camp had 20 attendees. Since then, they have hosted six camps impacting over 115 girls.
Let’s Build attempts to ignite the spark within the girls to explore a career in the construction industry through architecture, engineering, construction, and building materials manufacturing (AECM) related activities. For one week each summer, these attendees gain exposure to the Built Environment in a real-world setting. They construct complete wall mock-ups, including framing, basic mechanicals, sheathing, air barrier and finished siding flooring, drywall finishing to a level 4, and paint. Local contractors and other CSI members are on hand to teach and provide instruction for each step. It became a huge success for the local chapter and community.
In 2020, it got the attention of the CSI Foundation. Members of the Foundation Board at the time agreed to support efforts to expand this program with both a formal program and funding. The Greater Lehigh Valley chapter model was used, and a pilot program was developed to share with CSI Chapters across the country.
Fast Forward to 2022. The Cleveland CSI Chapter decided to access the program, creating Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls NE Ohio, powered by the CSI Foundation. Shelly Higgins, CSI, Assoc AIA, IIBEC of S-5! Metal Roof Innovations spearheaded the effort, attacking the learning curve as the first CSI Chapter leader outside the Greater Lehigh Valley to use the “template” provided by the Foundation. Shelly’s persistence was nothing short of amazing as she navigated the logistics of the donations needed, the volunteers required, the local outreach for campers, the monetary needs of the week. John C Workley, BA, BS, CSI, AIA, NCARB of Vocon Partners, LLC and Great Lakes Region President Scott Michael-Taylor, CSI, CDT of Conspectus, Inc. assisted. All worked tirelessly to bring the event to fruition.
Jon Lattin and Janet Grazul were contacted to help fill in the blanks and were the epitome of good help. Jon attended this inaugural event with former camper Paige Knowles (“Plumber Paige”) and provided hands on leadership and support. The camp was held June 27 to July 1, 2022. All who attended the inaugural camp did so for free.
The results were stellar. The girls who attended reported they felt strong, confident, capable, and knowledgeable. Another piece of the circle were the parents, who watched their children grow and learn throughout the week. Friendships were formed and dreams of working in the building industry were born. One parent said with tears in her eyes: “We could not afford to provide an experience or camp like this for our daughter. What you have done here is life changing for our family”.
Shelly and the CSI Cleveland Chapter learned much through the process and plan to hold a similar event June 26-30, 2023. The Great Lakes Region is proud to have one of our chapters be the first to access and use the Foundations pilot program. If your chapter is interested in doing the same, reach out to Shelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.