Going to summer camp for the first time is an unforgettable experience. For 35 Des Moines youth, summer camp also gave a glimpse of a future career as a plumber, carpenter, or sheet metal worker.
Thanks to United Way, the youth, age 11 to 13 and from Des Moines’ low-income neighborhoods, camped at Camp Hantesa near Boone and traveled to Des Moines each morning to gain hands-on experience in the trades through local apprenticeship instructors.
The program is called the Target Alliance Summer Camp and the students explored careers in the trades offered through apprentice programs in carpentry, painting, linemen, operating engineers, iron workers, electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers and steamfitters.
“This camp gives young children a chance to explore future careers. These kind of experiences aren’t offered in the schools any more since most of the vocational education programs have been eliminated. We’re planting the seeds for staying in school, obtaining skills training and working at well-paying jobs” says Bob Brown, Build New Careers Program at the United Way of Central Iowa.
The Target Alliance Summer Camp program is funded by Prairie Meadows and organized by the Iowa Comprehensive Human Services and the Central Iowa Apprenticeship Coordinators Committee. The Apprenticeship Coordinators volunteer their time and materials are all provided to the students at no cost. The program has been in existence for the past 15 years.