NBCC summer camps offer students the chance to try a trade

Sending teenagers to camp has become a lot more interesting thanks to College 4 Kids (CK4).

The New Brunswick Community College offers weeklong programs that give students the opportunity to try out a trade they're interested in.

Options include culinary and baking, carpentry, welding, engineering and information technology, early childhood education, animation and digital photography.

Erin Sweet, NBCC's business development manager for eastern New Brunswick, said the program started about three years ago after staff noticed many students starting college were not aware of all the post-secondary options available to them.

She said NBCC staff felt that with exposure to different careers, students would then make better decisions about their high school courses and be better prepared for college or university.

Overwhelming response

As a result, mini-versions of programs were created for students entering into grades 7 to 9.

The response was overwhelming.

"They loved it," said Sweet. "They were very tired by the end of the week."

Using the culinary camp as an example, she said students learn to debone a chicken on the first day, which is something she points out that she doesn't know how to do.

"They learn kitchens are hot and you're standing on your feet for eight hours a day," said Sweet.

"And although they all had a fantastic time, some who thought they wanted to be the next MasterChef had a different opinion by the end of the week."

For other students, it was just what they wanted.

"So hopefully in two or three years, we [will] see them back in one of our culinary programs," said Sweet.

She said taking part in a camp and finding out it's not something you want to do is also a good experience.

Classes have a maximum of 16 students and the students are often taught by an instructor who teaches the course throughout the year.

Growing each year

With CK4 growing and expanding, Sweet said it doesn't take long to fill up.

She said students who have attended the camps are engaged and dedicated to learning.

"I think we underestimated this age group and how much they want to learn some of this stuff," said Sweet.

She said the camps offer an alternative to children too old for daycare and too young to work, adding some parents sign up their kids for the entire summer just so they can try different things.

Colby Carr-Babineau is one participant who has done just that.

He took part in different camps the first two years it was offered. His mother Vicky enrolled him the first year she saw the program promoted on Twitter.

"I like that I'm able to do what college kids do," he said. "Hands-on learning and work in the work space." 

And he will be back this summer for one final go.

"It gives you an idea of what it's like to work at NBCC," said Colby.

He's tried almost all the camps that have been offered and says his favourites are culinary and carpentry.

He said the camps have influenced his decision for what to do after high school.

"I want to go to NBCC for civil engineering," said Colby.

Vicky said the opportunity for Colby to take part in the program has been great.

"I find, especially with boys, they just don't know what they want to move forward to," she said.

Sweet said parents have the opportunity to see what their children have learned during the week at a showcase held on the last day of a given camp.

The cost ranges from $175 to $200 for a weeklong camp. Eight weeks of programming are offered in Moncton, and two weeks in Miramichi and Fredericton. Registration for this summer's camps began April 3.