Unique summer camp in Pewaukee builds carpentry skills: “We want to see the students find their passion”

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PEWAUKEE -- At the Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training Center in Pewaukee, middle and high school students were busy Monday, July 24th transforming stacks of wood into something seaworthy.

“They’re going to go through the entire process, from start to finish -- taking a pile of lumber and creating a beautiful 12-foot rowing boat," said Bill Nimke, president of the non-profit organization All Hands Boatworks.

The Milwaukee-area students were taking part in Building2Learn’s week-long summer builders’ camp, a partnership with All Hands Boatworks.

Anthony Domenech

“We’re sanding the wood, and then we’re going to build it together. We had to use this machine where you soften the glue. So far it’s really fun," said Anthony Domenech, a sixth grader at UCC Acosta Middle School.

Most of the kids had little to no hands-on experience until they walked through the doors.

“At my school I’ve built a birdhouse and a toolbox, but nothing like a boat," said Domenech.

“It’s a great lesson in project management, and also a lesson in patience, perseverance, working as members of a team," said Nimke.

Leilany Calderon

After a week working alongside industry professionals, some may even be steered toward a career in skilled trades.

“I’m super excited, because it’s like following into my dad’s footsteps, because he’s a carpenter. I kind of get to understand why he does it, the fun of it," said Leilany Calderon, another Acosta sixth grader.

“We want to see the students find their passion, but it all starts here with the basics, and then how do we drive them to their passion comes next," said Joe Schmidt, board president for Building2Learn.

On Saturday, July 29th, the kids will show off their finished boats to their families. Then in the fall, they actually get to take them out on the water -- with an important streak at stake.

"I am proud to say, after building close to 60 boats, not one of them has sunk, and the leaks have been minor," said Nimke.

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