“I think everybody should experience this, because I know a lot of girls don’t get to learn how to use tools.”
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Camp NAWIC Austin
Credit: Jolsna Thomas

This week, 36 Austin-area middle schoolers suited up for a free camp that teaches girls about construction. 

Camp NAWIC, facilitated by the Austin Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), provides a week of hands-on learning for young girls, encouraging them to make their mark in the male-dominated construction industry.

"We wanted something that was going to be very hands-on, and a true learning opportunity," Jolsna Thomas, president of sponsor Rosendin Foundation and co-chair for the camp network, told KXAN. "That way, the girls would understand how to work with tools, they would understand the why behind certain things of why you did it, as well as to actually really work with their tools and build something and be proud of it."

First-year attendees learn how to use power tools to build concrete planters, lamps, and dog houses for donation to Austin Animal Center. They'll each receive a contractor's tool bag filled with tools, including a screwdriver kit, framing hammer, drill set, and more when they graduate at the end of the week.

Camp NAWIC Austin
Credit: Jolsna Thomas

Even if the girls don't decide to go into the industry one day, when it's all set and done, they'll at least come away with plenty of new skills.  

"Whether it's fixing a stop in the drain of the sink, changing garbage disposal or there's an issue with the shower and figuring out where the issue is and how to repair it, that type of practicality is going to be helpful for all of our campers throughout their life," Thomas told KXAN.

Madelin Escamilla, a 14-year-old second-year camper, told KVUE that she decided to come back this year because she's interested in engineering. She said that using tools is "one of her favorite things."

"I think everybody should experience this, because I know a lot of girls don't get to learn how to use tools," Escamilla said.

Other NAWIC chapters in cities throughout the country host similar summer camps for girls. The Austin camp is the only Camp NAWIC in Texas.

You go, girls!