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9 girls learn electrical work, welding at weeklong camp

By Tiffeny Hurtado
thurtado@decaturdaily.com · 340-2440

Nine teens got hands-on experience in welding and electrical work at the “Summer Welding and Electrical Technology Camp” at Calhoun Community College last week.

Camp SWEETY gave girls from across Morgan County in the ninth, 10th and 11th grades the chance to learn about welding and electrical fields.

Organizers said the teens walked away with basic know-how and technical experience.

“Now they know that there is a need for women in these fields and that there is money to be made with these kind of jobs,” said Greg Dudley, welding instructor for the camp.

During the week, the girls learned various welding processes from cutting metal to welding it. They also learned how to wire electrical outlets, lights and a house on a smaller scale.

“The first day, the girls were shy and hesitant, but once they realized, ‘Hey, this isn’t going to kill me,’ they got pretty good at it,” Dudley said.

Many of the girls did not know each other, but it didn’t take long to make friends.

“We didn’t say a word on Monday, but by Wednesday, they couldn’t shut us up,” said Leslie Blackwood, a SWEETY camper.

Welding and fear

Kayla James said her biggest fear was welding because she didn’t want to mess it up, but by the end of the week, she the other girls made metal clocks and an extension cord from the skills they learned.

“There was a lot involved in making that clock,” James said. “It takes some practice to get everything right.”

The girls toured local facilities like Waddell Mechanical Inc. and United Launch Alliance to see the types of careers available.

The Decatur Chamber of Commerce, Decatur’s industries and Calhoun’s Tech Prep Consortium sponsored the camp.

The chairman of the chamber board, Donnie Lane, spoke at the Friday luncheon to honor the girls for completion of the camp.

“The greatest thing that the Chamber of Commerce can do for the community is offer its citizens opportunities for careers,” Lane said.

“Our goal is to fill some of the jobs that our chamber members have open, and the girls were excited to learn that you can have a successful and lucrative career in any of these fields,” said John Seymour, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce.

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