The sixth-to-eighth graders who participated in the 2022 Camp Hard Hat at Genesee County Park & Forest this summer worked hard and exceeded expectations, said Karen Winters, director of the Business Education Alliance, which sponsored the camp.
"You guys are amazing," Winters said. "You really are. I sometimes, when I see how small you are, I kind of think, 'how are they going to be able to build something like (a pavilion)?' I question it, but then by the end of the week, you do something so incredible, and you blow everybody's mind so I can't say enough to you guys about how proud of you I am, as I'm sure your families are, as well."
This was the eighth Camp Hard Hat at the park in the past nine years and the largest number of participants yet.
This year, project leaders worked in some fun events, too, such as geocaching and kickball, which made the overall experience better for the kids, said Paul Osborn, director of Parks, Recreation & Forestry for Genesee County.
"It's been a great opportunity for us to showcase the park to the kids," Osborn said.
The Pavilion the students built replaces one built in the 1980s. The new one is larger, so it can accommodate larger gatherings and it will eventually have electrical outlets.
One of the goals of the program is to expose students to building trades and perhaps get them interested in a career working with their hands.
"One of the things that we always have a difficulty with is hiring trades individuals, kids out of college or out of high school, they don't always have the skills," said Osborn. "I think nowadays we're seeing that the trades are just as important as any colleges. In fact, most of the time the kids that go into the trades will do much better monetarily and but also produce something every day."
Winters with Lukas Volkmar (Churchville) and Jackson Ciravolo (Bergen), two students back for their third years at the camp, this time as leaders and counselors. This was the first year students returned in those roles.
Proud mom Missy Midkiff with her son Ayden, both of Batavia.