Photos and story by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service.
Boardwalks and bridges in the Genesee County Park. If you visit the park during any season you have used one or both.
“There are people from all over the world that come to the this little park and say how neat, clean and nice this park is,” says Jared Radesi, Camp Hard Hat director and Building Trades teacher.
“Attribute some of that to the kids that get together every summer for one week here to build a new bridge and help keep the park alive.
The BEA(Business Education Alliance) has partnered with the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership to offer Camp Hard Hat at the Genesee County Park.
“It’s an educational learning experience for the kids and everything is to code,” says Paul Osborn, Genesee County Parks supervisor.
This is the fourth year for the Camp Hard Hat Program and it has been growing. This year there are 20 kids involved, seventh- through ninth-graders, from area schools.
Osborn says this year there are two projects being worked on.
A 100-foot boardwalk with a 24-foot bridge and a 16-foot bridge near Area D on the Conservation trail.
For the last three years the program has been using recycled guard rail systems and trusses from the Batavia Downs roof system that was dismantled. The lumber was purchased through a grant.
“We want to show them that there are options out there other than a college education,” says Radesi.
“Apprenticeships are something this country was built on and they are a free way to get an education.”
Radesi said there is a skills gap right now and the whole industry is hurting for employees and leaders.
“There is high demand for skilled laborers and this group of kids can make a lot of money in the next 10 years.”
On Wednesday, the Hard Hat crew was working on the boardwalk.
Isabela Braun, of Le Roy, and Emma Osborn, of Oakfield, are both freshman and in their second year of being involved with the weeklong camp.
“I get new skills that I will be able to use for the rest of my life and I will be able to get a job without having to go to college and get all that debt,” says Braun.
“I feel proud cause you will see it there for a long time.”
Emma Osborn says having the experience from last year helps the new kids involved in the project this year.
“They know we know what we are doing and we can help build the mindset of others,” says Emma Osborn.
“It feels like you are bringing something else here that needs to be done.”
At the end of the project, a sign will be erected that lists all the kid’s names who were involved in the project along with the major sponsor’s names.
“They will be able to bring their parents, their grandparents, then as they get older, their kids to see their work.”
Park Supervisor Paul Osborn says he is not sure what next year’s project will be, but it may include some plumbing and electrical work and a mock wall.
“This is a great program for the park and it allows us to connect with the community and with the kids, a lot of these kids would never come out here,” says Paul Osborn.
To check out the camps offered for next year visit http://beagenesee.com/